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Rapidata joins with IoF on cheque debate

Cross-sector collaboration seeks to safeguard donation levels and examines the viability of cheques for the future

In a joint venture the Institute of Fundraising and Rapidata Services Plc have embarked on a programme that brings together the charity and payments sectors to explore what can be done to preserve and build donation levels in light of: charities’ heavy reliance on cheques in fundraising; the future of the cheque as a payment mechanism; and the need to investigate viable payment alternatives that will meet the needs of charities in future years.

The three-step programme named Cheques: Where Now? will channel expert views, research both sector and consumer audiences on cheque usage and attitudes, and report with recommendations to the charity sector, payment industry and Government.

On the 31st January 2012 the IoF and Rapidata, a Bacs approved bureau and a specialist in processing charity donations, co-hosted the programme’s first panel meeting of experts from across charities, charity sector umbrella bodies and the payments industry.  Discussions included the current heavy reliance on cheques in fundraising, barriers to change, trends in cheque usage, existing and potential alternative payment mechanisms, and an apparent lack of awareness and education around the issue within the charity and banking sectors.

The Payments Council, which sits on the programme’s expert panel, is very supportive of this project and is fully committed to continue working closely with the charity sector.

Following the high profile and successful Save Our Cheque campaign, driven by the IoF during 2011, the Payments Council withdrew its scheduled deadline for the abolition of cheques in 2018.

The announcement was greeted with great relief across the charity sector,” says Louise Richards, Director of Policy and Campaigns at the Institute of Fundraising. “We have been assured cheques will continue as long as there is a need for them but there is also a sense of uncertainty as to what is to come and so we cannot afford to rest on our laurels.

Our research shows that many charities are heavily reliant on cheques in their fundraising, with some stating 75% – 90% of their total income is received in this way.  We aim to ensure that charities and their needs are recognised in the management of the cheque going forward and in the development of future giving methods.

Scott Gray, Managing Director of Rapidata Services Plc says, “11million cheques were used each day in 1990 compared to just 3.5million per day in 2009.  Cheque usage continues to fall, most recently by 10% per year.  It’s important we acknowledge this natural decline and that consequently cheques are unlikely to remain a viable payment mechanism for ever. Charities cannot afford to be complacent in their fundraising strategies for the future. As a sector, we need to be prepared for change and have a voice in how this takes shape.

Cheques: Where Now? key objectives:

  • To ensure the cheque remains a viable donation payment option for as long as possible
  • To determine how the charity sector can prepare for the eventual demise of the cheque as a donation/payment method
  • To explore viable existing and new alternative payment mechanisms and how these can be developed with fundraising in mind
  • To build awareness and motivate charities in the need to be proactive in their move away from reliance on cheques, and how to act on this
  • To explore how charities may engage with their donors/audiences on this issue.

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