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Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

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Figures show GDPR had huge impact on fundraising last year

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Data points to 2018 being a one off year

New figures reveal that GDPR hit charities hard in 2018 with new donors down by nearly a third.

Monitoring firm Rapidata released its Tracking Report for 2019 at the Institute of Fundraising’s National Fundraising Convention in London last week showing a huge downturn in donor acquisitions, attributed to the onset of GDPR.

However, the first quarter of 2019 shows positive growth, indicating that the sector has rallied with confidence to the downturn with confidence.

Figures show that ahead of GDPR being implemented, charities began to be less confident with fundraising.

Many charities dumbed down or totally stopped proven fundraising approaches such as direct mail, telephone and face-to-face contact before GDPR came into force last year.

Yet the report shows that the average annual rate for charity Direct Debit cancellations fell to a record low of 2.14% in 2018.

Looking at the monthly rates, each month of the year apart from January exhibited the lowest rates ever recorded for that month across 15 years of tracking data. May and June 2018 dropped to 1.95% and 1.89%, compared to 2017 rates of 3.07% and 2.15% respectively.

Daniel Fluskey, the Institute of Fundraising’s head of policy, said: “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.”

Scott Gray from Rapidata added: “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.”