Most comprehensive research to date shows depth of concern from fundraisers about cheque abolition

Most comprehensive research to date shows depth of concern from fundraisers about cheque abolition

  • Appeals to existing donors - method most reliant on cheques, and adjudged of greatest concern to anxious fundraisers
  • Negative comments from fundraisers regarding the proposed abolition of cheques outnumber positive comments by 30 to 1
  •  “Already battling a sluggish economy and government spending cuts, any unsupported abolition of cheques in 2018 would deliver a triple whammy for charities indeed,” vies Saxton

On average, fundraisers rank themselves as being “8-out-of-10” (scale of 1 to 10) concerned about the impact, on charitable revenues, of the proposed abolition of cheques in 2018 - according to research presented to a government inquiry into the issue.

Two in five (40%) of all fundraisers surveyed actually rate their concern level as the maximum “10-out-of-10”!

Leading not-for-profit sector research consultancy nfpSynergy’s What do fundraisers think about the proposed abolition of cheques? briefing - which has just been submitted to a Treasury Select Committee inquiry – is based on original research carried out amongst fundraisers, in conjunction with leading sector magazine, Fundraising. The research received over 500 responses from fundraisers working at organisations of all sizes. It gauges the importance of cheques on different charitable income streams, plus the levels of concern about the impact abolishing cheques would have on those same streams come 2018.

Charitable income streams with the highest current level of income coming via cheque (Chart 1) are donations from appeals to existing donors, from major donors and from charitable trusts. 4 out of 10 (40%) respondents say that 80% or more of their income for appeals to existing donors comes via cheque. For all income streams assessed - apart from online donations and income from shops - half of respondents say their organisation receives at least 30% of such income via cheque.

The income streams where fundraisers believe that any abolition of cheques in 2018 would have the greatest impact (Chart 2) are appeals to existing donors, recruiting new donors and membership subscriptions. Two-thirds (66%) of respondents say the abolition of cheques would have either a very high or substantial impact on their appeals to existing donors.

Negative comments given by respondents (see Box 1 and Box 2) regarding the proposed abolition of cheques outnumber positive comments roughly 30 to 1. Negative reactions focus on areas such as:

  • Loss of income, particularly from valued older donors
  • Increased admin costs and poorer procedural transparency
  • Lack of payment alternatives; and lack of research into whether donors would indeed use any available alternatives come 2018
  • Concern that changes are being done primarily for the benefit of the banks - at a cost to charities, and other parts of the economy
  • Loss of the peronalised ‘feel-good factor’ arguably unique to writing cheques

nfpSynergy’s Driver of Ideas, Joe Saxton – himself a former chair of the Institute of Fundraising - comments:

“Cheques have a different role in raising money for charities than in most business models. When somebody makes a donation to a charity there is no greatly desired or needed ‘product’ to buy, by whatever method the producer deems necessary. So, if the mechanism through which a donation must be made is too difficult, donors may simply not bother at all.”

"This research shows that some revenue streams are especially reliant on cheques - the vast majority of charities saying that over 50% of income from new and existing donors comes via cheque. Charities are already being hit by a sluggish economy and government spending cuts. So any abolition of cheques would be a triple whammy indeed, were it to happen.”

“Fundraisers expect high levels of income to still be coming from cheques in 2018. So, if that deadline is to be kept, then the charity sector will need far more support than they presently get in converting donors to other payment mechanisms, to avert a potentially catastrophic resultant slump in revenue – and just as we enter an era of undoubted increased charitable need.”



MEDIA COMMENT: To interview nfpSynergy’s Joe Saxton about these findings, please contact him direct on 07976 329 212 or; or, alternatively, contact Adrian Gillan (0774 086 7215; E: for further assistance.

Note to editors:

nfpSynergy ( is the UK’s only research consultancy dedicated to the charity sector and not-for-profit issues. It provides ideas, insights and information to help voluntary and community organisations thrive in an ever-changing world. Regularly harvesting the social and charity-related views of public and parliament, media and business - not to mention not for profit organisations themselves - nfpSynergy has a vast and ever-growing knowledge pool from which to extract and deliver insights.