Is it time to fall back in love with cash donors?

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Many charities and non-profit organisations focus on regular giving donations as a consistent and reliable income stream. This has often come at the expense of more traditional cash giving. But, over the last few years, single cash donations have become increasingly popular again with supporters and saw a significant boost with the pandemic.

This is something we’ve been tracking in our InsightHub benchmarking suite and highlighting in our State of the Sector reports. Our 2020 snapshot showed:

  • One-off giving was up almost 50% compared to 2019
  • Recruitment on one-off donors was double that of previous years
  • In both cases, these metrics were above those of five years ago
  • The number of active cash donors were also back to above levels of five years ago

Value, volume and motivations of cash donors

The sudden increase in cash donations in the last year has sparked many questions among the third sector; who are these cash donors, how many are there and why is their behaviour changing?

Along with the rest of the industry, the team at DTV were keen to understand whether this shift in supporter behaviour is due to Covid-19 influencing decisions or whether it’s a long-term trend.

To investigate the value, volume and motivations of cash donors, they commissioned a YouGov survey, which explored the donor landscape between March 2020 and March 2021, with over 2,000 adults in the UK.

Fascinated by the results, our Managing Director, Jon Kelly, joined DTV’s Gillian Egan and Peter Muffett in a DTV insight and inspiration session that explored the results of the research in detail, with the help of analysis and insight provided by InsightHub.

Survey results

Some of the key findings in the research were outlined by Gillian in the DTV webinar.

Out of the people surveyed:

  • 31% were regular giving donors and cash donors
  • 30% don’t donate direct to charity appeals
  • 27% were cash only donors
  • 12% were regular giving only donors

Delving further into the data, some interesting statistics and trends emerged, such as:

  • People who give both regularly and as one-off gifts are more likely to be women and over 55
  • Cash only donors are more likely to be females under 35
  • 30% of all donors under 35 gave more last year
  • One in five cash donors gave more last year, whereas one in two regular giving donors gave the same amount
  • The most common one-off cash donation is £10, with £5 second
  • 63% of direct donors prefer to support a select few charities but younger donors are more likely to back a wider range
  • Cash donors aged 55 and over are more likely to say they’ve included a gift in their will to charity than older regular giving donors

Why give cash donations?

One in three cash donors surveyed, who said they increased their giving last year, said the pandemic made them re-evaluate how much they wanted to give to charities and support those specialising in Covid needs.

The national lockdowns provided more time to consider charity appeals and 31% said they had more disposable income to donate to charities, due to less spending during this time.

Top reasons among cash only donors to opt for one-off cash donations, rather than regular giving, include having the choice of how and when to give (57%), preferring to gift without commitment (56%) and being uncertain about future finances (45%).

Benefits of cash donors

Cash donors bring a wealth of benefits and offer more than just monetary contributions. They’re more likely to support multiple causes, they’re good legacy prospects and they provide an opportunity to diversify a donor base.

Cash donors are more likely than regular givers to:

  • Donate to collections
  • Engage with social media campaigns
  • Participate in, or sponsor, fundraising events
  • Volunteer for charities and communities
  • Sign online petitions and attend demonstrations

Are cash donors here to stay?

The data from InsightHub and DTV’s research clearly shows that cash donors can be a significant and valuable opportunity for charities.

Undoubtedly, some of the recent growth is down to the pandemic and whether these trends will continue is difficult to say. But we strongly believe there will always be a substantial segment of the population who will prefer to give in this way.

By not engaging with cash donors, charities may be missing an opportunity and limiting their potential audience.

Find out more

To learn more about the data and trends behind the recent rise in cash donations, you can request to watch the webinar and send your questions by email to

To discover more about InsightHub and how we can help you understand your cash donors and their potential, please email us at Alternatively, send us your enquiry here.