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Text donations drop more than a quarter in a year

Melanie May | 16 August 2023 | News

A man's hands holding his phone and about to touch the screen

Charity donations via phone-paid services (text giving) fell 28% in 2022-23, according to the latest Phone-paid Services Authority Annual Market Review, conducted by Analysys Mason.

It shows that charity donations fell from a total of £50 million in 2021–2022 to £35.9 million in 2022–2023, a decline of 28.1%. This is the second year in a row they’ve shown a decline, after peaking in 2020–2021, with the review stating that donations fell in 2022–2023: “primarily because of the biannual nature of the Stand Up to Cancer telethon, the declining popularity of telethons overall, and consumers’ reduced discretionary income in light of the cost-of-living crisis.” Charities’ recent use of alternative digital payment mechanisms was another factor.

Stand Up to Cancer did not run in 2022-2023 and is one of the largest telethons in terms of on-the-night donations, raising £31.2 million in 2021 across all payment channels.

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The impact of the cost-of-living crisis saw the telethon events that did run this year receive lower donation amounts via phone-paid services. Red Nose Day raised £31.9 million in 2023 across all payment mechanisms compared to £42.8 million in 2022, a 25.5% year-on-year decline.

The report also says that “relatively high levels of giving in March 2022 (with Concert for Ukraine and a stronger performance of Red Nose Day that year) were followed by a dip in spending, which may reflect some ‘displacement’ in donations, with consumers donating more in March 2022 (within the 2021–2022 financial year) and reducing subsequent donations as a result.”

Phone-paid donations excluding televised events

As a result, the Phone-paid Services Authority estimates that phone-paid donations that were not from televised events came to £10.6 million in 2022–2023, (down from £12.5 million the previous year).

The proportion of total donations coming from nontelevised events increased from 25% in 2021–2022 to 29.4% in 2022–2023. An estimated £9.8 million of non-telethon phone-paid donations were recurring donations (down from £11.5 million last year) compared to £0.9 million from single/one-off donations (down from £1 million last year).

The PSA conducted interviews with industry stakeholders who noted a drop in the number of individuals donating, although average donation amounts did not change to the same degree.

Recurring payments

The proportion of charity donations via phone-paid services that were recurring payments is estimated to have grown from 23% in 2021–2022 to 27.1% in 2022–2023. However, this is because the amount of overall donations raised through televised events this year was significantly lower than last year. 

Overall, the review found that the market outperformed expectations with non-charity revenue growing by 3.5%. This was driven by “robust” growth in operator billing, which increased by 12.8%.

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