Retention is consistently rated as a top 3 goal for most Member Organisations* but is under pressure in these unprecedented times. Member anxiety, remote working, furlough and financial concerns have led to an increase in member cancellations. The threat to revenue is clear – but what can be done?

Ride the Wave

Although many organisations experienced a spike in cancellations in late March in response to the lockdown, for most this has now returned to ‘normal’ levels – though close monitoring is essential.

Be Aware

If you collect your member payments via Direct Debit you will get immediate notice of cancellations via your ADDACS reports. Now more than ever these should be actioned regularly. As Bacs Accredited trainers we are happy to explain your Bacs reports and the actions you can take in response.

Remember Direct Debit as a collection method offers numerous advantages compared to Standing Order or Credit Card. These include better retention rates, notification of cancellations, organisational control of when payments are taken (rather than relying on members ‘remembering’ to pay) and it can be cheaper.

Take Control

If Members do cancel, contact them. One of our clients, The British Horse Society undertook a recent campaign to contact all cancelling members and by doing so were able to re-sign many. You can hear Emma Day of The BHS discuss this in the recent MemberWise webinar.

Be Responsive

Is now the time to consider suspending your Direct Debits? Although there will be a short-term hit to revenue it could prevent members from cancelling and therefore help protect future revenue. Remember, you should advise members if you are suspending payments (e.g. by email, letter, website notification or phone) to comply with Bacs Rules.


If a member has cancelled in error or changes their mind, you can usually reinstate the Direct Debit (within 2 months) – it’s easier than having to re-sign a member from scratch. If you don’t operate an automated system for sending your Direct Debit Instructions to Bacs (AUDDIS), the member can reinstate with their bank, but is now the time to consider the move?

Ensure successful collections

A key way to retain members is to ensure a smooth, error-free payment process. Now is not the time for errors to occur! Double collections, failure to collect on the nominated date and collection of the wrong amount are all situations we have helped organisations sort out in recent weeks. Check you can access your software – especially as teams are working remotely (and that you have a back-up plan in place if this is stand-alone on-site). Check the team is trained and knows the schedule and that you have emergency contact details to hand.

Plan for the New Normal

After the initial flurry of adapting to changed circumstances, now is the perfect time to review your approach to revenue collection.

  • If you don’t offer Direct Debit, consider introducing it.
  • If you haven’t already, introduce AUDDIS. This will speed up sign-up, reduce errors, allow you to reinstate cancelled Direct Debits and ensure you can send Instructions to Bacs even if mailing houses / offices are closed.
  • Review your end-to-end process We have integrated bureau solutions in place with many CRM providers.
  • Consider online DD training to confidently deal with any issues.

Use Expert Support

 We are here to help. Contact us: [email protected] or 01737 826957.

* Memberwise Digital Excellence Research 2019

Clear Direct Debit are a specialist Direct Debit organisation who know membership organisations, like yours, very well. We have helped hundreds (from the very large to the very smallest) get the most from the Direct Debit / Credit Scheme.

Debbie Lane
Debbie LaneOperations Director, Clear Direct Debit