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Retention & income improve for hospice sector but more challenges on horizon


Hospices in the UK have seen income levels from new and repeat donors along with retention improve since 2020. However, the cost of living crisis means more challenges are on the horizon according to a new report.

One challenge is donor acquisition, which is currently stagnating, meaning that for every 100 donors gained, 100 are lost, the report says.

Aimed at supporting strategic planning in hospices, the report from Dreamscape Solutions and supported by Hospice UK, is a study of the sector’s fundraising since 2017 based on findings from Dreamscape Solutions’ Fundraising Fitness Test service, studying nearly 6.5 million individual gift transactions in 38 hospices. The report focuses on the change in behaviour of both existing and new donors in the context of the current cost-of-living crisis.

Whilst the figures show a stable level of performance, the ongoing cost of living crisis means gift values are likely to fall at the same time as hospices’ own costs are spiralling. Low retention due to the impact of the crisis will also undermine the financial sustainability of many hospices, the report suggests.

Since 2020, it shows that hospices have seen improvements in income from newly retained donors as well as from repeat donors, and in their overall retention rate. However, they have also seen decreases in average gift values, overall acquisition, and income from major/corporate donors.

Hospice UK’s Director of Income Generations and Grants, Catherine Bosworth said:

“The report is essential reading for every hospice fundraising team to help them better understand what is and isn’t working, in the face of a period of extreme financial challenge in the UK.


“Hospice UK estimates that hospices are likely to face additional costs in 2023 of more than £100 million. At the same time, our aging population means demand on hospices will continue to increase, but pressure on household incomes and the public purse means hospice fundraising teams will need to find new ways to generate income and meet the demand for their services.”

Bernard McCabe, Director of Dreamscape Solutions commented:

“Hospices have weathered the storm of the Covid-19 pandemic, but the hospice health report shows there are more challenges ahead. Many hospices are struggling with donor attrition – for every 100 donors gained, 100 are lost. With the cost of living crisis expected to keep affecting how much communities can give to hospices, it’s vital that hospice fundraising teams tackle donor retention by developing knowledge, skills, and systems to consistently deliver stewardship experiences that meet the expectations of modern consumers.”

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