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£50 million raised by smaller charities given a “lifeline” to online fundraising

Tuesday 3 March 

More than £50 million has now been raised for good causes through an online donation processing platform launched less than two years ago by the Charities Aid Foundation to support small and medium sized charities.  

Over 1.4 million direct debit payments have alone driven £14.5 million of regular giving per year, new figures show.

CAF Donate launched in June 2014 to help charities previously priced out of offering direct debit donations and unable to unlock the generosity of their supporters online. The surge in donations has been crucial to smaller charities - defined as having an annual turnover of less than £1m -  who make up 96% of the UK voluntary sector.

More than 2,300 charities now use the platform which also enables them to set up online fundraising pages and process telephone and postal payments without having to pay a fixed cost.

The service has been particularly popular with education, health and religious sector charities which thrive on regular donations. For example, universities are using the service to collect donations from alumni.

Figures published today show that:

  • CAF Donate has now passed the £50million landmark with £51.4million in donations processed;
  • 1.4m direct debit donations have been made since January 2013, while there have been more than 180,000 one-off donations made via card, PayPal and CAF Account and CAF Charity Vouchers & Cards – of these, 130,000 were made by card and PayPal;
  • The average one-off donation made on a card via CAF Donate is £100, more than six times the average £14 donation made to charity in 2014;
  • CAF Donate’s typical customers are small to medium charities in education, health and the religious sector, who often did not have an online donations facility or found other platforms too costly;
  • CAF Donate is mainly used by fundraisers. They can set-up and monitor campaigns to boost their charity’s fundraising, as well as see who is donating to them.

Prior to the launch of CAF Donate, research by the British Payments Council found that 9 in 10 charities were unable to accept direct debits despite this being the most popular way for people to donate. CAF’s UK Giving 2014 report shows that one in three people choose to give to charity by direct debit donating more than £1 billion to charity every year.

This means as many as 150,000 charities could have been missing out.

Julie Simpson, Product Manager for Charities at CAF, said:

“We launched CAF Donate to support smaller charities that were being priced out of being able to accept online and direct debit transactions and needed a lifeline.

“It is fantastic to see that so many charities are benefiting from the service which has enabled them to accept tens of millions in donations which they might otherwise have missed out on.

“Large charities are often well equipped to innovate and have had the resources to keep up with the steady rise in online donations as well as managing postal and telephone donations.”  

Charity Porchlight has been using CAF Donate since it launched.  It is Kent’s leading homelessness charity, and has been operating for 40 years.

Cathy Hole, Fundraising Support Officer said: “It is important that we continue to stay connected to the ways our supporters give. When CAF Donate launched it suited our online giving needs.  

“Being able to process donations that come in by post through CAF Donate also means we are reducing our administration costs and speeding everything up. For a smaller charity like ours this makes a big difference.”

Team Margot, a charity which campaigns for people to join the worldwide registers as potential bone marrow and stem cell donors, also use CAF Donate.

Yaser Martini, who set up the charity after losing his two and a half year-old daughter to blood cancer in 2014, said: “I think good digital platforms like these help to level the playing field for small charities like us, who are essentially run by a handful of unpaid, part-time volunteers. 

“I’m a believer that people will come around and find a way to help us. We have 40,000 fans on Facebook and 7,000 Twitter followers. Sometimes people just want to give money, and that’s great when it happens online.

“The key for me is that digital platforms enable awareness on a wider scale. If it resonates, then people will take action – and digital fundraising is one of the options.”

Processing data from Bacs shows two million more charitable donations were made by direct debit in 2014 compared to 2013, fuelling a year-on-year increase in value of £48 million, or 4.1 per cent - with over £1.2 billion in total donated this way in 2014.

Notes for Editors:

  1. The Charities Aid Foundation helps people and businesses give to the causes they care about and provides financial services to support charities.
  2. More information about CAF Donate can be found on our Charity Fundraising section.
  3. All CAF Donate donation figures include Gift Aid; the 1.4m direct debits count each direct debit instalment as a payment.
  4. Data from Bacs was published on April 3, 2015 here.
  5. Research published by the UK Payments Council in 2012 found that 91% of charities did not accept direct debits.
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