The results of the Christian Opinion Panel are in. The 2019 edition of this biennial survey sampled the giving behaviour of over 800 UK Christians. Its findings build on the previous surveys from 2015 and 2017 and begin to give a sense of how the giving behaviours of this large demographic are changing over time.

Commissioned by TMH Media, the Christian Opinion Panel surveys a new cohort of UK Christians every two years. This makes the sample more representative of UK Christians, and any trends spotted are more meaningful.

Has UK Christian giving behaviour gone digital or is it still analogue?

Society is becoming increasingly digitally-savvy. Smartphones and tablets occupy hands whilst smart tech adorns our wrists and runs our homes. Has the giving behaviour of UK Christians kept pace with these technological advances? -Certainly, there is an abundance of ways to donate to charities digitally, either through websites, apps, via social media or by text. But, how do UK Christians donate to charities in 2019?

Direct debits are the most popular way to donate

The data from the Christian Opinion Panel shows that direct debits are the most popular and also the most preferred way to donate, and this trend is maintained from 2017. The data show that 37% of respondents gave to charitable causes by direct debit in 2019, which is only 3% more than the 34% of respondents in 2017 (Figure 1).

Interestingly, there was a trend for less people to donate via online platforms. 15% said they donated online in 2019 compared to 19% in 2017. However, this is only a marginal negative swing. Conversely, 9% used envelopes for collectors in 2019 in contrast to 6% in 2017. Again, a marginal positive swing.

Figure 1. The ways by which UK Christians give to charity

To understand if these methods were actually the preferred methods of donation or if they were used simply because they were the only method accepted by the charitable causes, a follow-up question about ‘donation preference’ was asked (Figure 2).

Figure 2. Preferred methods of donation

Resoundingly, direct debit was the most popular form of donation. Nearly 50% of respondents preferred to donate by this method.

Interestingly, only 3% said they preferred to donate by envelopes for collectors, despite 9% saying they gave by this method in answer to the previous question. Perhaps this is a result of the supported charities not offering an option to donate by direct debit?

Also, quite tellingly, only 1% preferred to give via text, and 0% via cash machine. It would be interesting to understand the reasoning behind this?

Fundraisers should accept direct debits

Based on these findings it is clear that UK Christians would rather donate by direct debit than by newer, more advanced methods such as online or via text message.

As a fundraiser it might be advantageous to focus resource on making it easy and accessible for donors to set up direct debits to help your cause.

Looking to find out more about how Christians donate to charities? Download The Christian Opinion Panel 2019 Survey for free now!