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Exploring the dynamics of fundraising channels

This blog focuses on individual giving fundraising channel trends, as presented at "The Lowdown, Individual Giving Insights 2023" webinar (now available to watch on demand).

In it, we’re answering the fundamental question, “Which are the most popular channels for UK fundraisers and why?” to identify the most effective funding strategies for charities.

What is a fundraising channel?

First things first, what is a fundraising channel? A fundraising channel is a means used to communicate with warm supporters to a charity, or to people the charity wishes to attract to support them.

There are a wealth of channels available to charities including direct mail, face-to-face, TV advertising (known as DRTV), and social media.

Which are the most important fundraising channels for UK individual giving fundraising?

Participants in the webinar (349 attendees) were asked about their primary fundraising channels. Not surprisingly, email and direct mail emerged as the leaders in the pack for use, standing neck-to-neck at around 30% of the responses.

However, when we look at which channel drove the most income, the standout result, especially when a lot of focus in fundraising is driven around digital, was that direct mail remains the top channel, scoring a significant 40% and leaving other channels trailing behind.

Looking at the data from The Woods Valldata Individual Giving Fundraising Surveys across 2021, 2022, and 2023, we can see the shifts in emphasis over time for one-off giving and for regular giving.

One-off giving channels

One off giving channels

In one-off giving, direct mail continues to grow year-on-year complemented by a surge in door drop and partly addressed mail usage to acquire new supporters.

Email had the highest percentage of usage for one-off giving, along with other digital channels, which reflected the webinar poll.

Helen Daw, Head of Data Strategy and Insight at Woods Valldata felt that this was potentially a result of more integrated campaigns where response options are offered across multiple channels – and therefore the ongoing retention activity would also reflect a more diverse channel portfolio.

Regular giving channels

Regular giving channels

Following the step-change in regular giving channels brought about by the 2020 pandemic, direct dialogue-based channels are continuing to grow and recover – reclaiming their top spot for regular giving fundraising channels.

“It is those conversations that work so well for getting people to sign-up to a regular gift: face-to-face and telemarketing.” Helen Daw

Alongside these channels, direct mail, email, social and web are still really high and therefore still of significant importance for regular giving campaigns and stewardship.

So, which are the best channels for individual giving fundraising acquisition?

Jo Howard, Global Head of Direct Marketing at Sightsavers explained in the webinar that for their charity, DRTV is their main method of acquiring regular giving supporters, whilst digital was more important for cash giving.

older lady and young man hugging facing a laptop screen and smiling with joy

Which channels are best for supporter retention and stewardship?

Jo went on to say that channels for retention activity were getting more complex and that she recommended a more ‘test-and-learn’ approach for charities when it comes to the best channels to use.

“Donors are much more savvy” she explained, “and they want to be responded to and talked to in different ways. You’ve got to be agile with how you use all your different channels.”

She explained that for measuring the effectiveness of retention, it’s important to look at the emotional side of why the supporter has given rather than just transactional metrics. This can often help determine the best ‘next ask’ for the supporter as part of their ongoing journey and relationship with the charity.

For a more in-depth look at individual giving fundraising channel trends, please do watch The Lowdown webinar on demand – available now.

Effective fundraising strategies with Woods Valldata

At Woods Valldata, we're passionate about people, partnerships, and what can be achieved when we do great things together.

As Partners in Possibility, we offer charities a range of outsourced fundraising services – and thanks to our people, processes, technical capabilities, and breadth of expertise, you can rest assured that with Woods Valldata, the service you get is always the very best it can be.

Whatever you need from your fundraising programmes, from innovation driving growth to reliable processes and continuous improvement or more accurate banking, thanking, and fulfilment, you can count on us to help you achieve more.

To put it simply, we’re here for you and your supporters. We partner with over 100 charities providing outsourced fundraising services across:

Weekly Lottery

Choose the right weekly lottery for you, from our bespoke Advantage offering and Aspire platform to Affinity Lottery, our ever-popular entry level lottery suitable for charities of all sizes and budgets.

Charity Raffle

From design, print, and post to response handling, reporting, and strategy, we offer an end-to-end charity raffle service.

Response Handling

Got a large-scale appeal coming up? No problem - we also offer fast, accurate, and secure response handling to reduce your administrative burden.


From Thank You messages to challenge pack sponsorships and memberships, our specialist fulfillment service makes the complex simple.

Direct Debit

Our Direct Debit management means you can rely on us for your regular giving banking and ensure your direct debit management is simple, easy, and compliant.

Data Strategy and Insight

Unlock the power of your data with our data strategy and insight service designed to enhance your programmes and achieve more.

Need further help and advice? We’d love to talk to you about your individual giving fundraising and help you deliver effective fundraising strategies. If you’d like to learn more about how our services can benefit you, contact our team today to find out more.

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