Charity Direct Debit: Taking Donor Payments Safely

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Regular, reliable donations are the lifeblood of any charity.

Without them, the fundraising mission would be a never-ending mountain to climb.

With them, your charity gets predictable income to reach the summit with the confidence, certainty and consistency you need to plan, promote and prosper.

How you accept these payments will have a direct impact on the success of your ongoing campaigns.

Here we explore how using charity Direct Debit is the best option for collecting donations safely, reliably and regularly.


1. The Cash Collecting Challenge

2. Why Direct Debit Outperforms Standing Orders

3. Why Choose FastPay?

The Cash-Collecting Challenge

cash collection charitiesLong gone are the days of collection tins and cheques making up the bulk of charity donations.

Supporters can now choose from a myriad selection of methods: one-off gifts via text, PayPal or credit card, or recurring donations via an automated system such as Standing Orders or charity Direct Debit.

When you’re trying to attract regular donors and their accompanying essential loyalty, making it as easy as possible to support your charity and not one of the other 168,000 in the UK is crucial.

You want your fair share of the £77 billion donated each year. So it makes sense to invite your supporters to use the most reliable and secure method available. One that requires minimal input from them and delivers benefits across the board.

Read on to discover why Direct Debit for charities is the right choice.

Why Direct Debit Outperforms Standing Orders

direct debit standing order decisionMore and more charities are recognising the power of Direct Debit compared to the alternatives, especially Standing Orders.

Traditionally the preferred way to collect recurring payments, the limitations of Standing Orders stand in stark contrast to the flexibility of Direct Debit.

Both Standing Orders and Direct Debits achieve the same result: cash is transferred automatically from your donor’s bank account to yours on a set date.

But that’s where the similarities end:

  • A Standing Order is an instruction from a customer to their bank to pay a fixed amount to you on a regular basis. Any changes to the amount, frequency or date of collection must be arranged by your donor with their bank. This could cause a delay to their first donation once they’ve agreed to sign up.
  • A Direct Debit is an instruction from a customer to their bank that authorises you to collect money from their account. With a Direct Debit, when the payment amount, frequency or payment date changes, you can collect the new amount on the date of your choosing. Your donor doesn’t need to authorise this, you simply need to inform them in advance.

With Direct Debit, you’re in control. You adapt the payment to suit your charity’s needs, provided you notify your supporters. Its flexibility here is unrivalled.

With Standing Orders, your donor is in control. They can cancel or change a Standing Order without informing you: you’ll only discover a hole in your fundraising forecast when the donation doesn’t materialise. A rigid arrangement that will have a significant knock-on effect to your plans and projects.

The benefits of Direct Debit for charities don’t end there.

Partnering with a Direct Debit bureau to introduce an efficient, automated payment system to your charity will deliver rewards for all.

Confident Cash Flow

cash flow reliabilityYour charity is also a business and all businesses rely on dependable cash flow to thrive and survive.

On average, a charity spends 10p on fundraising for every £1 of income they receive. Maintaining the momentum here is essential: attracting enough donors via fundraising efforts to keep the charity’s good works going.

Welcome charity Direct Debit and you’ll not only have a continuous stream of income, you’ll know exactly when cleared funds will be in your account. You set the collection date, amount and frequency, leaving you comfortably in charge of your cash flow.

With no more surprises when you log in to your bank account, you’ll be able to plan and budget with confidence.

Regular Reporting

On the subject of checking bank statements, a Direct Debit set-up includes a pro-active reporting system to give you a real-time overview of all payments and non-payments.

You’ll instantly be notified if an expected donation hasn’t materialised, allowing you to deal with bounces and cancellations swiftly and professionally.

Re-presenting a failed Direct Debit has a 90% success rate and reinstating a cancelled instruction is also quick and straightforward. Once resolved, you can quickly get your cash flow back on track.

Identifying a failed Standing Order requires time-consuming checking and could take several frustrating months to reinstate. Or if your supporter never gets round to setting up a new one, you’ve lost a precious donor.

Easy Admin and Automation


Alongside this helpful reporting, the entire Direct Debit system is automated. Operated by Bacs, specialist software connects your systems with your bureau’s to streamline all payment processing.

Choose FastPay and you can integrate Direct Debit with both Xero and Sage, bringing your entire accounting structure into the digital age.

A comprehensive dashboard eliminates the need for manual reconciliation. Keeping track of numerous Standing Orders will become a thing of the past and the task of claiming Gift Aid will be simplified.

No longer tied up with the day-to-day minutiae of accounting, your team can be freed up to focus on attracting more donors and building personal relationships with existing ones.

The overall result is a lower admin load for your charity, saving time, money and easily-avoidable headaches.

Fundraising Flexibility

Direct Debit is the perfect partner if your fundraising strategy relies on encouraging people to donate a small amount each month.

Asking for £5 a month sounds much more appealing than suggesting they give £260 upfront. The chances are, carefully-targeted potential donors will be happy to spread out the cost over the year.

Once they’re signed up, those £5s will just keep arriving in your account.

And when the time comes to encourage your donors to increase their monthly donation, Direct Debit for charities comes to the rescue again.

If they choose to be more generous, it’s a simple process of ticking a box or saying yes over the phone. With this permission and the necessary advance notice, you can increase the amount they give each month with minimum fuss and hassle for all. An instant easy boost to your fundraising goals.

Solid Security

solid securityYour charity’s reputation and trustworthiness are of paramount importance to its success. Any doubts in donors’ minds and they could opt to support a different cause.

Direct Debit can help here thanks to its exceptional levels of security.

The Direct Debit Guarantee protects your donors with a wide range of safeguards. It’s worded as follows:

  • The Guarantee is offered by all banks and building societies that accept instructions to pay Direct Debits
  • If there are any changes to the amount, date or frequency of your Direct Debit the organisation will notify you (normally 10 working days) in advance of your account being debited or as otherwise agreed. If you request the organisation to collect a payment, confirmation of the amount and date will be given to you at the time of the request
  • If an error is made in the payment of your Direct Debit, by the organisation or your bank or building society, you are entitled to a full and immediate refund of the amount paid from your bank or building society
  • If you receive a refund you are not entitled to, you must pay it back when the organisation asks you to
  • You can cancel a Direct Debit at any time by simply contacting your bank or building society. Written confirmation may be required. Please also notify the organisation.

As the most secure form of payment available, it’s a straightforward way to reassure customers and build trust. Direct Debit bureaux are also vetted by Bacs and closely monitored by their sponsoring bank, adding another layer of security.

Priceless Loyalty

This trust will lead to loyalty, a major factor in limiting donor churn.

The ease, convenience and security Direct Debit offers to donors will noticeably boost satisfaction levels with your charity. You can give them peace of mind that payment is being made automatically, one less admin task for them to think about.

Once they’ve completed a Direct Debit mandate, either online, over the phone or on paper, they can sit back and relax, knowing that their donations will leave their account on the agreed date.

With this faith in the professionalism of your operation and smooth donation system, they’ll become true advocates, spreading the word to others that supporting your charity is as easy as it is worthwhile.

Affordable Costs

affordable costsDirect Debits can be processed by FastPay for as little as 3p per transaction. Sign up to their Managed Service, which is ideally suited to charities, and you’ll be working within a transparent payment structure.

Low set-up costs, no annual fees and free lifetime customer support will make budgeting easy to manage.

Its affordability, and flexibility, also means you can offer incentives such as prize draws or donation-matching to those who sign up to your Direct Debit scheme.

While Standing Orders usually won’t cost your charity anything to accept, you’ll pay the price in increased staff hours and supporter satisfaction levels.

For your donors, the onus is on them to check for any refused payments. They could then be charged up to £25 per failed Standing Order and may also face overdraft fees. They could also be disgruntled about the reason why they’ve ended up in this money mess: your charity.

Why Choose FastPay?

Search online for Direct Debit bureaux and you’ll be greeted with several names all promising amazing service, low prices and unbeatable security.

As with all suppliers, you want the best fit and the best price for your charity.

Bacs-approved bureau FastPay has substantial experience arranging and running charity Direct Debit schemes.

They currently act as the bureau for many charities across the country, including:

FastPay was incorporated in 2008 and has since welcomed hundreds of clients on board including high street banks, national newspapers, the NHS, energy companies and Premier League football clubs.

Choose FastPay and your charity will be working alongside professionals who deliver exceptional customer service and flexibility.

You’ll also get the reassurance that your money is secure thanks to strict Bacs guidelines which focus on confidentiality, integrity, compliance and availability, and adhere to the General Data Protection Regulation.

FastPay also have a failsafe guarantee with their sponsoring bank by means of a legally-binding indemnity. This acts as an additional safeguard for funds received under the Direct Debit Guarantee.

And if you still have questions about the ins and outs of signing up, you can speak to FastPay’s experienced in-house customer services team. They’ll give you friendly, expert advice about how Direct Debit can benefit your charity and its supporters.

24 hour setupDecision made, FastPay can get you up and running within 24 hours. Get your donors to sign up via a straightforward online sign-up system and the donations will soon be pouring in.

You’ll enjoy a fully personalised service with advice and support available whenever you need it. And your customers will too, thanks to fully branded documentation that makes it clear who they’re donating to.

Instead of the impersonal name of your bureau, your charity’s name will appear on their bank statements. Another helping hand towards loyalty and peace of mind.

When setting up a charity or planning how to increase donations to an existing one, assessing how you accept those donations is critical.

Rely on a mixture of cash, cheques, Standing Orders and card payments and you’ll be facing a perpetual processing burden that will detract your team from growing your charity.

Opt for charity Direct Debit and you’ll be set up for success. Reliable, flexible, secure and convenient, it will help your fundraising dreams to fly.

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