The Institute of Fundraising and Rapidata Services plc have begun a three-step programme to examine the future of cheques as a donation mechanism and investigate payment alternatives for charities given the their inevitable withdrawal. The two organisations are working with payments providers to explore how charities can preserve and build donation levels given charities' continued heavy reliance on cheques in fundraising.
The 'Cheques: Where Now?' programme will seek experts' views, research both sector and consumer audiences on cheque usage and attitudes, and present a report with recommendations to the charity sector, payment industry and Government.
The programme's first expert panel meeting of experts took place at the end of January. Discussions included the current heavy reliance on cheques in fundraising, barriers to change, trends in cheque usage, existing and potential alternative payment mechanisms, and limited awareness and education
around the issue within the charity and banking sectors.
The Institute of Fundraising launched a campaign during 2011 to 'Save Our Cheque' which was successful in helping to convince the Payments Council to withdraw its original scheduled deadline for the abolition of cheques in 2018.
Louise Richards, Director of Policy and Campaigns at the Institute of Fundraising, said: "The announcement was greeted with great relief across the charity sector,” she said . "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."
According to the Institute's research, some charities receive between 75% and 90% of their total income via cheque payments.
Scott Gray, Managing Director of Rapidata Services Plc said: "11 million cheques were used each day in 1990 compared to just 3.5 million a 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."
Objectives of the Cheques: Where Now? programme
• To ensure the cheque remains a viable donation payment option for as long as needed
• 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.