Fewer people giving more, study shows

Donations to charity rose from £9.7 billion to £10.3 billion during 2017, but fewer people gave, according to the largest study of giving conducted in the UK

Chloe Green | 26th Mar 18

Donations to charity rose from £9.7 billion to £10.3 billion during 2017, but fewer people gave, according to the largest study of giving conducted in the UK.

But those that do give are giving more, according to the annual  research carried out by the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF).

CAF’s annual UK Giving report, which includes interviews with more than 12,000 people by YouGov throughout 2017, found that men are less charitable than women, although on average they give more than women.

But although older people continue to give the most, the survey found a surge in the amount given by younger millennials. For the first time since the survey began 16-24 year olds gave more than those aged 25-34.

Overall, the report shows that despite a decline in the number of people reporting that they give to charity since 2016, the average (mean) amount given in 2017 was up from £40 to £44.


Popular causes

Medical research remains the most popular cause among generous Brits, followed by animal welfare, children or young people, hospitals and hospices and finally overseas aid and disaster relief.

The report found that women are once again more likely than men to participate in charitable and social activity but notably, women are also donating more financially than before. CAF’s report found the average monthly donation for women has increased from £35 to £42 closing the gap on men.

Trust in charities is stable, with around half the UK population (51%) agreeing that charities are trustworthy, consistent with 2016.

Despite the high profile of online giving, cash remains the main way in which people give to charity, decreasing only slightly in 2017.

Other key findings of the 2018 UK Giving report include:

  • November and December were the peak months for donations to charity
  • Full time students were the most likely group to volunteer in 2017
  • People continued to sign petitions and take part in public demonstrations in 2017 at the high levels seen for the first time in 2016. Londoners and those aged 16-24 are most active in this area


Worrying trend

CAF Chief Executive Sir John Low said: “We have tracked the generosity of British people across the UK for more than a decade, and their enduring willingness to support the work of charities is something of which we should all be proud.

“Although total donations are slightly up, the number of people giving has fallen. It’s far too soon to tell if that represents a trend, but we need to be careful if giving becomes concentrated in fewer, larger donations.

“It is telling that men are less likely to give money than women, although those who do on average give more, men are also less likely to volunteer. But the good news is that young millennials seem to be giving more than in previous years and that bodes well for the future.

“Crucially, we note that trust in charities remains stable. While we in charities must always strive for the best and never be complacent about the high standards expected of us, the enduring trust people have in our country’s voluntary sector should be a source of pride, and something precious we need to protect.”


Hard work and dedication

Peter Lewis, chief executive of the Institute of Fundraising, added: “The charity sector is built on the donations that people give to causes they care about. The British public continue to be generous and we’re pleased to see this report estimating an increase of around half a billion pounds in the total amount given to charity.

“This pays tribute to the hard work and dedication of the thousands of fundraisers across the UK who create innovative campaigns and inspire millions of people to give. It’s heartening to see that on average the amount that people say they donate to charity has increased.

“However, there are findings in the report which give us pause for thought. We continue to see a demographic disparity with men giving less than women, and the slight decrease in sponsorship levels suggests that fewer people gave money in 2018 than the previous year. Fundraisers will be thinking about strategies to address this and how they can get more people giving, and people giving more.”

The full report can be read here.