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Last week Rapidata held a breakfast briefing with the Institute of Fundraising on the future of payments and donations in the not for profit sector, exploring the challenges and opportunities for charities.
Our event reinforced the speed at which the payments landscape is changing, and, with the payments journey a key part of fundraising and regular giving, the urgent need for charities to look at how they can use the growing mix of technology to provide as smooth and engaging supporter experience as possible.
Just why charities can’t stand still was highlighted by Mike Chambers, ex-CEO of Bacs and a leading payments consultant.
He emphasised that while cash remains important, its usage is steadily declining, with the likes of in-app and contactless payments continuing to rise, and Direct Debit the top choice for recurring payments with uptake still growing.
In fact, 2019 saw 856,000 new Paym registrations while a record high 4.5 billion Direct Debits were processed.
Other new technologies that will impact payments are also on the way, and will continue to be developed, such as Request to Pay, which will allow organisations and individuals to send electronic requests for a payment with options such as pay in full, in part, or decline.
And the no longer futuristic and super secure method of biometric finger vein payments (yes, as in blood vein!) that are about to become a reality.
As new technologies and infrastructure develop so too must charities’ abilities to understand and work with these in order not to be left behind.
It’s a case of, at the very least, watching and monitoring how things are changing and being ready to adapt and evolve.
With fraud a growing issue, security regulations change as well and must be kept up with. Recently introduced SCA (Strong Customer Authentication) and Confirmation of Payment are already adding extra layers of protection for transactions.
It’s not just uptake of digital that is increasing, but supporters’ expectations too.
If they can pay digitally for everything from a coffee to a bus ride for example, they also expect that choice in other areas of their lives, including charity donations.
So what does this mean for charities, particularly where regular givers are concerned?
With Rapidata’s research showing that a frictionless and engaging payments journey is critical for loyalty and to keep donations flowing, Access Group’s Head of Payments Scott Gray emphasised the importance of making giving easy for supporters, and of providing a more personal experience in order to increase their engagement and loyalty.
As well as embracing digital based mechanisms to keep pace with shifting consumer preferences, our research also shows that 74% of people want more control over their Direct Debit payments, so there is a need for charities to enhance existing programmes and innovate.
Looking at how people are using other payment vehicles and applying that to your Direct Debit processing can help, such as introducing options for supporters to take payment holidays and the ability to adjust monthly gift sizes and collection dates themselves – all of which is possible through Rapidata’s Control My Payment.
Bringing customisation into your online regular giving offers more choice for supporters and greater personalisation.
It’s an area where Rapidata’s eDirectDebit service really adds value, through enabling you to manage multiple giving pages so you can customise every campaign with a range of giving options as well as relevant and engaging copy that shows supporters the impact of their donations, strengthening their connection to the cause.
Of course, what works for one group of supporters won’t necessarily work for all, and caution is needed to ensure that we also don’t move too fast and leave donors behind.
This is where testing any element you’re thinking of changing is so important to work out what’s right for your supporters.
What’s clear, Dan Fluskey, Head of Policy and External Affairs for the Institute of Fundraising, tells us, is that just getting it right now isn’t good enough.
With the payments landscape changing fast, we also need to ensure we get it right tomorrow – and into the future.
Above all, this means listening to our supporters and their expectations to continually improve and provide them with the best possible experience, whether it’s through adopting the latest technology, or better personalising their journey with us.