Public’s Preferred Donation Methods & Communications

Jonathan Pitts

With advances in payment technology, and communications continuing to be a hot topic for charities, at Harris Interactive we wanted to ask the general public their preferred donation methods and how often they like to hear from charities they donate to.

To do this we used our Harris 24 service which allowed us to go out to 500 members of the public and get responses within 1 hour. The first question looked to see what percentage of respondents had donated to charity within the last 12 months, over 77% said they had, which is in line with research the Charities Aid Foundation carried out in 2014 where 79% of the public had.

Next we asked their preferred donation method and gave 14 of the most popular options including more recent methods such as mobile apps and contactless payment. The favourite method amongst our respondents was cash with over 33% selecting this option, followed by buying goods with over 17% and then direct debit with 12%.

Click here for the survey results  – pdf

It’s interesting to note that newer donation methods such as contactless payments and mobile apps only accounted for 1% of all responses. This could be because charities haven’t taken advantage of these newer donation methods by making them easily available, or that the public are not comfortable donating in this way.


Our survey in February looked into the communication preferences of the public when hearing from charities, where email was the most popular method. We wanted to look further into communications as it’s a keen talking point within the industry so asked respondents how often they would like to hear from a charity they’ve donated to.

There was a large split in responses as shown in the chart below. Four answers; monthly, once every 3 months, once a year and never all had similar response levels, between 19-25% each. Given this wide variety of answers and mounting focus on communications that come from charities it could be hard for a charity to know how often and via which method they contact their donors.

There’s a fine line between sending topical updates to donors with regards to the great work charities are doing and how they can help further by donating, and becoming a nuisance which will damage their donor relations and brand image.


In the last month we’ve had a number of conversations with communications and fundraising directors who’ve said they are going to put more focus on profiling and segmenting their donor list so they can send more tailored communications in a way they are comfortable with, so as to yield the best results in terms of donations and to raise brand awareness positively.

With Harris 24 it’s possible to survey your own donor list on any topic including their communication and donation preferences in a cost effective manner to gain quicker, actionable insight.

If you would like a copy of the full survey results, or to chat about how we could help your charity call Jonathan Pitts on 0161 242 1363 or email


  • Charity
  • charity communication