‘Shocking charity direct debit cancellations rates could get worse.’ This recent article posted on Civil Society got me thinking again about how peculiar it is that many charities single-mindedly focus on obtaining direct debit sign ups.
Think-time needed for cash supporters
Relentless focus on direct debits (I refuse to call it ‘Regular Giving’) is all well and good but is not the be all and end all – let’s hear it for people who give cash! Alongside the ‘how can I get more direct debit givers?’ conundrum sits an often-missed opportunity to raise vast sums of money, and develop successful long-term relationships with supporters who just don’t do direct debits. These cash-orientated supporters are ‘committed’ and they do give cash ‘regularly’. We all love direct debits (particularly Finance), and yes they indicate some kind of relationship commitment, but it sometimes feels like good old cash giving gets sadly overlooked…
The cash ask – so many opportunities
Good database fundraising means targeting the right prospects and supporters with the right message at the right time, using the appropriate channel. No longer is it just about direct mail, it’s with-and-not-at, there are the Boomers, there is time-short Gen X, and there is the supposedly face-to-face loving Generation Y… (Although I do suspect that a bunch of those cancelled direct debits are with charities who are discovering the ugly flipside of an aggressive F2F channel coupled with ineffective stewardship.)
But let’s forget about all that exciting channel debate for a minute, and just think about the type of ask. Direct debit asks are HARD, and for many many prospects and supporters, wholly inappropriate. Low engagement cash asks are often the most prolific way to acquire new donors (‘because its easy and only a tenner, silly!’). The cash ask might be need-based, or something more offer-led/’whats-in-it-for-me?’ such as raffle, prize draw or a trading offer. Either way, for many folks a cash ask is a far more viable proposition or giving trigger than something scary like a direct debit. Mobile is the fastest growing way to give cash and its oh-so-easy compared to completing a direct debit… Oh, and cheques are here to stay too, so that little issue no longer means the death of cash giving for older supporters.
Your best cash supporters are quite literally regular givers
OK, so a low value, one-off cash donation/play/purchase is an easier ask. ‘But it’s just a one-off!’ I hear you all cry. Yes, but completing a direct debit doesn’t promise a sticky relationship, as our friends at Civil Society point out. Some of the most sticky, COMMITTED and REGULAR supporters have only ever, and will only ever, make lots of ‘one off’ cash transactions.
It’s a real shame – and dare I say it a little disrespectful to the cash brigade – that the terms ‘regular giving’ and ‘committed giving’ have become interchangeable terms for ‘direct debit giving’.
And while I’m bashing unhelpful names, the term ‘one-off’ is also not an ideal descriptor for cash – my Gran gave hundreds of ‘one-off’ cash donations before leaving half her bungalow to the cats and dogs…
That funny pyramid thing that some old school fundraisers talk about doesn’t always ring true. At the end of the day it’s about having the right balance of tools – direct debit donors are great, but let’s not forget the cash.