Digital donations growing but cash still key – IoF research

The Institute of Fundraising says that although use of cash for donations is declining in favour of digital payment methods, cash remains popular with certain donor demographics.

James Hayes | 6th Jun 18
Image of person making a digital donation representing a study from the Institute of Fundraising on the role of digital payments vs. cash for charity fundraisers.

A survey of Institute of Fundraising (IoF) members conducted in support of the body’s response to the government’s call for evidence on the future of cash and digital payments in the new economy finds they expect donations in cash to continue to decrease in favour of digital payments.

The survey found that:

  • 70% of respondents report a decrease in the percentage of overall donations given in cash (19% significant decrease, 50% slight decrease) since 2015.
  • 86% of respondents expect a decrease in the number of future cash donations in the five years to 2023.
  • 74% of respondents have yet to try contactless payment systems to take donations, but 72% do expect to use contactless payment systems at some point.

In a blog post about the survey’s findings, Stephanie Siddall, Policy Manager at the IoF, explained that while charities of all sizes think that the number of cash donations they receive will decrease over the next five years, fewer small charities (i.e., with up to £1m total income) are predicting a decrease (75%) compared with 89% of medium organisations (i.e., with an income of £1m–£10m) and 97% of larger charities (i.e., annual income more than £10m).

IoF survey respondents report “quite noticeable differences” in donation habits when looking at the age of donors. Some 75% of charities report that over the last three years they have noticed that 16-24 year olds are less likely to give cash, compared to 29% of those aged 45–64, and 10% of people aged 65+.

“Generally, charities are viewing the future landscape of payments positively, with 70% identifying changes as an opportunity and only 16% viewing them as a threat,” Stephanie Siddall said.

“[The IoF has] put together a response, informed by the insight from [its] members. We’ve emphasised throughout that, with over 160,000 registered charities, there will always be a wide variety and range of experiences and priorities across the charity sector. Some charities are early adopters of new technology, and have been integrating and embedding new digital and contactless payments as part of their fundraising activity. Others are more traditional – or have less ability to take on newer changes – and rely on cash collections and donations.”

Siddall added that the IoF believes “that the government can play a constructive role in helping support successful future fundraising and giving so that we can maximise the number of donations given to good causes.”