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 406.

    I used to donate to charity every month by direct debit, but when things got tougher money wise, I'm afraid it was no longer high on my list of priorities.
    I would also think twice before doing the same again; after I cancelled the monthly payment, I was plagued by phone calls from the charity (who I won't mention) asking me for more money. I got fed up of explaining my position over and over.

  • rate this

    Comment number 405.

    @392 Poppy day as you call it is something that (in my opinion) everyone should give to; afterall its thanks to the armed forces we are kept safe

  • rate this

    Comment number 404.

    I find the only way is to decide which charity/ies I want to support and give to them only. Say no to the others, after the first time it gets easier. And I give to animal charities only too. That always gets a bit of a "look" when I tell the "under the nose tin shaker". You need a thick skin these days for most things let alone the conscience prickers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 403.

    I do get half a dozen or so charity bags pushed through my door everyweek requesting that I fill them with my old clothes

    Sadly, I am still wearing 'em.

  • rate this

    Comment number 402.

    There is only so much money to go around all these charities in terms of donations. However, I do feel some are disadvantaged because of the lack of awareness by the general public. Others are disadvantged because of what can be described as a non-priority case. The public will decide. When you consider how much lottery funding went to the Olympics, some charities would welcome a fraction.

  • rate this

    Comment number 401.

    i regularly give to charity, not much but enough to make me feel better.

    However i am sure i am not alone in thinking as a normal working person that i actually have no chance of changing the world for the better.

    The change that the world needs comes from the rich and powerful, the sheik who spent half a billion pounds on Man City or Abramovich at Chelsea who can make a difference.

  • rate this

    Comment number 400.

    As charities are now allowed to pursue their political ambitions using the contributions supposedly collected for charitable purposes, a change in the law promoted by G. Brown, I for one refuse to give to any charity nowadays.

  • rate this

    Comment number 399.

    Relief of poverty, illness & ignorance - traditional intents of charity - were necessitous for the state

    1601 Statute provided Commissions to restore pursuit of original intents

    Necessitousness again recognised in 1842 Income Tax Act, exempting charitable purposes

    In our more democratic age, necessitous purposes should be for direct democratic pursuit - by the state or by equal individuals

  • rate this

    Comment number 398.

    I was in Tesco about 6 months ago and was approached by a "representative" from a charity which helps children suffering from the same condition I suffer from. I agreed to give £10 per month. Barely 4 months in, do I get pestered with a phone call from said charity - now I have hearing difficulties just like those that the charity supposedly "helps".

  • rate this

    Comment number 397.

    This is a serious for both charities and society. Charities provide so many front-line service that we simply take for granted.And when they are struggling to meet demand, or worse still cut their services, we'll be the first ones to criticize them. A £3 donation a month really can make a tremendous difference - less than the price of a single pint.

  • rate this

    Comment number 396.

    "The CAF and NCVO said Britain remained a "generous and compassionate society""

    And in the case of Abu Qtada and his lawyers, over generous and over compassionate .

  • rate this

    Comment number 395.


    367. fuzzy
    Easy, fund it via taxes. The rest of your post is a false argument.
    You reckon the govt would do a better job than the RNLI do?
    I'm suggesting the RNLI continue to run it but for it to be funded by taxes (seems sensible as we're an Island). That would not bar you from donating if you wish to.

  • rate this

    Comment number 394.

    Massive minute long adverts during prime time t.v trying to make the entire nation feel ridiculously guilty must cost quite a lot surely?

    I'm also a student so can't afford to pay monthly and my parents who do give monthly get numerous calls asking for more, it's just silly, if a company did this I wouldn't go anywhere near them again!

  • rate this

    Comment number 393.

    The off putting thing about charities to me is the vast sums the bosses get, where's their charitable spirit? They can't possibly have any because if they did then they would do the job for a normal salary like the rest of us plebs in the real world!

  • rate this

    Comment number 392.

    Let me see... where ever you turn, whether on TV or out in the street, newspaper, poppy day, pudsey, Save African children, Earthquakes or RSPCA etc etc etc. there is always someone there holding their hand out to you. we, the British Public, have only the one salary. If we were to contribute to all, we also would need a charity to help us survive. I'm saying there's Too Many asking for my money.

  • rate this

    Comment number 391.

    367. fuzzy
    Easy, fund it via taxes. The rest of your post is a false argument.
    You reckon the govt would do a better job than the RNLI do? Compare MOD warship design & procurement to their lifeboat design and construction program for starters. They also rescue the person most in danger first. No 'response times' to fudge or 'efficencys' in funding (like closing my local fire station) either

  • rate this

    Comment number 390.

    "And such a policy might reduce what they send to landfill."

    Quite a bit that goes straight to landfill from homes & businesses could be sold and the money raised given to charity.

    How many times have you gone to a DIY shop for a piece of timber that is only sold in a far bigger quantity than you actually need? A shelf or set of drawers, some screws etc?

  • rate this

    Comment number 389.

    In the summer of this year I went to a music festival (Boomtown Fair) in Winchester. There stewarding were a large team of Oxfam workers. What in gods name were charity workers doing guarding a 35,000 rich kids from over intoxicating themselves or fighting? I guess they get paid just like the chuggers. Its a complete farce that once honest charities are becoming aggressive amoral corporations.

  • rate this

    Comment number 388.

    I've found myself inceasingly supporting charties in the last year, throught the use of Charity shops. I can't afford much new, and by using a charity shop I am able to get fairly good quality second hand goods (mainly clothing and books), as well as helping the charity. Any clothes I no longer need, or shoes that no longer fit get given back to charity shops - and all parties benefit!

  • rate this

    Comment number 387.

    If people are serious about donating to charities and are doing it for the right reasons then the recession should have had no impact on the amount of money charities receive.

    I donate money to my local Church every week, and the amount I give has not been affected by the recession because I value charitable giving more then other items of personal expenditure.


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