GDPR might have wrecked charities’ marketing plans last year as fundraising campaigns were shelved en masse, but all the hard work on compliance is starting to pay off this year with organisations building deeper relationships with donors through smarter use of data.
That is according to a new report which shows that the new data laws had a major impact on regular giving, with the number of new donors crashing through the floor in the months preceding and following GDPR D-Day on May 25 2018.
The Rapidata Charity Direct Debit Tracking Report 2019, which includes submissions from more than 600 charities, reveals that donor acquisition volumes for regular giving fell by nearly a third (32%) last year.
The study highlights what many in the industry had witnessed; the virtual wipeout of fundraising activity across traditional media, including direct mail, telephone and face-to-face as most charities focused their resources on ensuring they were GDPR compliant.
Even so, online direct debits continued to grow strongly, with regular giving sign-ups increasing by 55% last year, although this has to be tempered by the fact that there was a 2% dip in average monthly gift value.
However, findings for 2019 are showing positive signs, with a 53% growth in the acquisition of regular givers from January to April of this year.
Direct debit cancellation rates for the first quarter of 2019 also suggest a return to a more typical cycle, with rates of 2.89%, 2.02% and 2.19% for January, February and March respectively.
Access Group head of payments Scott Gray, who was research lead on the report, said: “2018 was atypical due to the introduction of GDPR and the uncertainties surrounding its implementation that saw so many charities cancelling or postponing campaigns.
“Now that this is behind us, we are seeing positive changes in fundraising, with a greater emphasis on building engagement and deeper relationships, as well as smarter, and more considered, use of data.
“Initial results for 2019 are extremely promising with what looks to be a return to a more typical – but lower – cancellations cycle, as well as a strong increase in acquisition volumes. It seems unlikely we’ll ever again see the high cancellations rates of old.”
Institute of Fundraising head of policy and external affairs Daniel Fluskey added: “The impact of GDPR meant 2018 was undoubtedly an unusual – and challenging – year for fundraising. However, the findings from this year’s research, especially the new lower levels of cancellations we’re seeing in 2019, show that the hard work put in by charities to improve their supporter relationships is now starting to pay off.”
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