Charity donations down 20%, says UK Giving 2012 report

charity box The average amount given has fallen by £11 to £10 a month, the survey found

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Donations to charity have fallen by 20% in real terms in the past year, with £1.7bn less being given, says a report.

The amount fell from £11bn to £9.3bn in 2011/12 - a fall of £2.3bn when adjusted for inflation, the study said.

The number of people donating fell - as did the amounts they gave, from an average of £11 to £10 a month.

The report, based on a survey of 3,000 people, was compiled by the Charities Aid Foundation and the National Council for Voluntary Organisations.

The CAF and NCVO said Britain remained a "generous and compassionate society", but charities were nonetheless facing a "deeply worrying" financial situation.

"Some are having to close front-line services. And some are having to make redundancies. We are painfully aware that some face closure."

It said it suspected small and medium sized charities were being disproportionately affected by the reductions in giving.

The charity KIDS, which supports disabled children across England, said it had to lose 44 staff last year, after being hit by both the public spending cuts and a fall in donations.

It tried to protect frontline services and the biggest losses were in central office staff, it said - "but this then has knock-on effect as it both affects our ability to fundraise and makes it very difficult for overstretched staff when the unexpected happens."

Cash most common

The fall in giving is the largest one-year decline in the survey of individual giving's eight-year history, and the total given is the smallest in real terms since the survey began.

The report found that 28.4 million people gave to charity during 2011/12 - more than half of all UK adults.

But the proportion of those donating in a typical month fell from 58% to 55%.

Start Quote

Cash is tight for everyone and people are finding it harder and harder to find money to give to charity”

End Quote John Low CAF chief executive

A larger proportion of women (58%) than men (52%) gave to charity.

Women aged 45-64 and above 65 were the groups most likely to give, with the youngest adults, aged 16-24, the least likely to give.

By category, "religious causes" received the largest percentage of donations, being given 17% of all money donated.

Medical research and hospitals received 15% each of all money donated, with children's charities receiving 11% and "overseas" 10%. Animal charities got 5%.

Cash remained the most common method of giving, with half of donors using this method, followed by direct debit (31%), buying goods (25%) and buying raffle tickets (22%).

Only 5% and 3% of donors gave using membership fees/subscriptions and payroll giving.

CAF chief executive John Low said the fall in giving was "deeply worrying" for those charities which rely on donations to provide vital frontline services.

"Combined with public spending cuts, this represents a potentially severe blow for many charities.

"If donations continue to fall, many charities will face profound difficulties carrying on their work and the people and communities they serve will suffer."

The research did not try to establish why less is being given to charity, but Mr Low said: "Cash is tight for everyone and people are finding it harder and harder to find money to give to charity."

Affordable loans

NCVO chief executive Sir Stuart Etherington said: "Charities are already being squeezed by greater needs, cuts in funding and rising costs.

Start Quote

If I could ask one thing, I'd ask people to commit to regular donations through direct debit, and give using Gift Aid, so charities can plan properly”

End Quote Sir Stuart Etherington NCVO chief executive

"If I could ask one thing, I'd ask people to commit to regular donations through direct debit, and give using Gift Aid, so charities can plan properly.

"We cannot afford to lose the services charities provide."

The two bodies called on the government to modernise Gift Aid and to ensure that public bodies did not disproportionately cut funding for charities when seeking budget savings.

A government spokesman said it was working to stimulate giving through initiatives such as new tax incentives, match-funding, its transition fund, and Big Society Capital.

He said the government gave significant support through the tax system and was also introducing a new Gift Aid small donations scheme. It was making it easier for charities to claim Gift Aid, and had proposals for the reform of payroll giving.

The survey was carried out by the Office for National Statistics, and collected information from adults aged 16 and over in Great Britain. The survey, part of its Omnibus survey, is run three times a year and carried out face-to-face in people's homes.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 526.

    I think this is more about disposable income as opposed to people choosing no to give. I do agree with other posters that there should be less charities dealling with the same issues to cut down all the admin costs. I like to know the max is going to the cause.
    I also agree there should be more people like Bill Gates as opposed to the billionares who decide they must have a bigger submarine.

  • Comment number 525.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 524.

    Ive been emptying and counting money from poppy tins today, one contained £100 in notes which one person donated, another contained £75 from someone and many people donated £10 and £20 notes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 523.

    Whilst I believe in the concept of charity sadly in the modern broken uk we are all cynics. We believe that charity bosses drive porches to the yacht club at the weekend whilst driving an escort to the office.I have no doubt some do. If you want to give read your local paper there is always a cause that you can help. A sick child needs an operation or go to the care home and talk to the old folk.

  • rate this

    Comment number 522.

    I have stopped donating to charity, I dont trust any of them any more.
    Apart from concerns as to what portion of donated money is lost in admin and salaries, there was always the possibility that some could be stolen by staff. Now we know that Saville was abusing the children his charities were meant for. Luckily I didnt donate to those, but I will never give another penny to ANY chairity.

  • rate this

    Comment number 521.

    I am unemployed (several years pre-retirement pension ) so no money, wife unemployed (no benefits), graduate son unemployed (desperately depressed and no money, no future, no benefits), daughter (graduate, unemployed also no money no benefits), Three of us do some voluntary work. What has gone wrong with this country. So no money to give to charity. We need some ourselves!

  • rate this

    Comment number 520.

    Charity? Ask yourself how are the people around, friends or those you see in the course of your day. Start there!!! If we all did this, perhaps heart would go back into the word charity and remove organized mindsets.

  • rate this

    Comment number 519.

    Make comments follow this link:
    Any one of us could be made homeless through no fault of our own - if you hold that thought you can't go far wrong.

  • rate this

    Comment number 518.

    @ 82.Perpetual Sigh

    "Charity begins at home."

    Ah, that old chestnut. Tell me, where is "home"? Is it the UK? Is it the white people in the UK? Perhaps it's your town, or your street? Maybe, just maybe, home is actually "you".

    At the end of the day most people have the ability to help others who are considerably less fortunate. I choose to do that.

  • rate this

    Comment number 517.

    It would be interesting to know if CEOs and those employed by charities reduce their salaries and expenses accordingly. I stopped donating to charities which pay themselves more than the sum they spend on the ground. Huge numbers are now employed in the charity industry. thats not what i expect

  • rate this

    Comment number 516.

    People beware!! I have stopped giving to charities for sometime now. Ask some pertinent questions like, 'How much does your CEO get paid ? Does he have an expense account ? What are his/her benefits company car? (very common) is the charity allowed to politicise its activities like 'Save the Children' Does your CEO live in a charity provided house? People will often not know, you need to !!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 515.

    Sorry, It's all going in the fuel tank. It will be worse next year after the shambles voted to increase tax further. I can only give what I have left and that is nothing at all these days. If I stop driving I stop working so that is not an option. I would give up another luxury but there is nothing left. I am flat broke. Sorry again!

  • rate this

    Comment number 514.

    "badly rewarded"

    Not "what our society has become", but how it always has been, its charities dependent on people with means & conscience, & people whose conscience is exploited

    Problems with 'redundant hierarchy' are everywhere: who having 'made it' will make / declare themselves redundant unless 'next move' is secure

    To live 'in conscience', we need Equal Partnership Democracy

  • rate this

    Comment number 513.

    Giving to charity doesn't just have to mean money. Time is even more precious. Spend an hour with a lonely old person, mentor a troubled teenager, help out at an animal shelter, and so on. Sadly, CRB checks now make giving your time to vulnerable people difficult and expensive. Sad world we live in.

  • rate this

    Comment number 512.

    One problem is that many "charities" are actually not charities, they are businesses paying their senior employees the kind of money and perks they would get in a highly-prized city job. If people knew how much of their donation was used to buy Merc's, posh offices or pay six-figure salaries, compared to what actually goes to the cause, no one would ever donate. Some big names are guilty of this!

  • rate this

    Comment number 511.

    Sadly many charities will cease to be and the ones that are left will be only able to do so much. The blame for this lies squarely with governments past and present. More people+more peeps on benefits+more tax+less jobs+high prices= LESS money to give. The irony is that many more people will need to access the support of charities.Sad isn't it?

  • rate this

    Comment number 510.

    Many retired people give using money earned from interest on their savings. With interest rates so low their is less money to give.

  • rate this

    Comment number 509.

    I'm always giving to various charities but now think why should ? when the Govt has foolishly guaranteed huge increases in foreign aid. It seems to me that the Govt now give my charity donations without my consent.

  • rate this

    Comment number 508.

    We have a neighbor who's whole lifestyle is funded out of honest donations to the charity she's involved in. She buys the best designer sunglasses and top clothes and lives the life of Riley, at the same time driving around in an old W reg car to give the impression she is poor. Wake up and smell the coffee, unless it's a worth while honest charity give them nothing or else you'll be scammed!

  • rate this

    Comment number 507.

    I think that government aid to third world countries may well keep many of them in their countries. But the corrupt leaders steal and hide the money, often in offshore accounts and tax havens. We in the Uk are responsible for nearly half the tax havens in the world. Please can we close them down. Even if it discommodes companies and people in the UK who use them as well


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