The Public Fundraising Association has cited the triple whammy of “chilling” new Metropolitan Police measures, the media backlash and market maturity for a major decline in street and door-to-door donations, which have fallen to their lowest level for five years.
PFRA figures reveal there were about 711,000 donors recruited by face-to-face fundraisers in 2015/16, down from 845,000 in the previous year and the lowest level since 2009/10, when 625,000 donors were signed up.
New income from street fundraising – so-called chugging – declined from nearly £14.6m in 2014/15 to £12.3m in the year to March 2016; doorstep revenue declined from £83m to £70m over the same period.
The estimates are based on the average value of donations, which are £96 for street and £120 for door-to-door activity.
PFRA chief executive Peter Hills-Jones attributed a large proportion of the fall to new measures brought in by the Met Police – which governs licensing for door-to-door fundraising in London – that require agencies to ensure that all fundraisers have Disclosure & Barring Service (DBS) checks, which flag up criminal records.
DBS checks cost between £25 and £40, and have proved too costly for some organisations, Hills-Jones claims.
He told Third Sector: “A lot of the campaigns that were scheduled to start in January, February and March were not able to proceed. It has been very disruptive and has had a chilling effect.”
The PFRA is in negotiations with the Met to draw up a compromise deal that will allow campaigns to recommence.
He also blamed last year’s media frenzy over fundraising tactics, claiming that even though most stories were about telephone fundraising, thus had had a knock-on effect.
Hills-Jones added: “There’s been an additional degree of hostility on both the street and people’s doorsteps, and at least part of that is widely attributed to some of the news stories we had last year.
“There is a general feeling that charities are finding it harder to get their messages through, that there is more resistance from people on the streets to stop and engage in those conversations.”
Finally, he said the maturity of the market meant that consumers in many areas had already been approached at least once by a fundraiser and taken a decision whether or not to donate.
They were now less likely to have future conversations with them, Hills-Jones added, insisting that last year had been a “blockbuster” one for the sector. He reckoned that 2016/17 will witness a “modest recovery”, however.
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