New research from Charities Aid Foundation shows the number of people giving to charity in the UK is declining significantly. Between January and April 2022, an estimated 4.9m fewer people said they donated to charity or sponsored someone in the previous year, compared to the same months in 2019.
The figures come from the latest CAF UK Giving report, which tracks giving trends throughout 2021 and into the first four months of 2022.
Although the number of people giving has been steadily decreasing since 2016, this trend stalled during the initial stages of the pandemic. Since then however, donations and sponsorship have continued to fall below pre-pandemic levels, across age groups and regions.
From January to April 2022, 57% of people said they donated or sponsored someone in the previous 12 months, compared to 65% in 2019. And although face-to-face fundraising events are resuming, only 13% of people have given in this way in 2022, compared to 23% in the same months in 2019.
The one exception
However, there has been one exception with a spike in donations to charities helping people affected by the crisis in Ukraine. In March 2022, around a third of people (32%) said they had donated money specifically in response to the crisis, and the average donation increased to £85 – significantly higher than usual levels, and the largest monthly donation average CAF has ever recorded in its UK Giving research.
Decrease in total amount given
CAF estimates that the total amount given in the UK during 2021 was £10.7 billion, a substantial decrease from the £11.3 billion given in 2020. Inflationary pressures also mean that in real terms, it is likely that charities will have fewer financial resources.
Amidst rising living costs, around one in eight are currently considering cutting back on donations to charity in the next six months whilst one in 12 people said they had already chosen not to make a one-off donation.
Most popular causes
Animal welfare continues to be the most popular cause area, with 28% of donors giving directly to this area in the past four weeks in 2021. This was followed by children or young people (23%) and medical research (21%).
Neil Heslop OBE, Chief Executive of the Charities Aid Foundation, said:
“This report will be sombre reading for the charity sector. Despite the huge generosity shown by the public to support charities helping people in Ukraine, our research shows a very concerning trend of fewer people giving to charity overall.
“Despite the return of opportunities for fundraising events following a dampened couple of years, we have seen donation levels fall even further. Combined with rising living costs affecting donations to charities currently and in the months to come, this paints a worrying picture for the future of many charities who rely on mass giving.
“We know that during times of crisis, people respond with generosity, as shown by the tremendous charitable efforts during the pandemic, and the significant donations towards humanitarian aid to help those fleeing conflict in Ukraine. We would urge the British public to give what they can to these charities supporting the most vulnerable in our society or consider helping in other ways, such as through volunteering.”
Sam Mercadante, Policy & Insight Manager, National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), commented:
“The UK Giving report paints a stark picture. Charities are being squeezed by the cost-of-living crisis: more people are seeking support, donations are falling, and inflation is eroding the value of income. Although charities are vital to help communities through this crisis, fewer people feel able to give to causes important to them.
“There is a risk that a larger proportion of society will be unable to shape the world they live in through donations. We are worried that deprived communities, that could gain the most from the economic and social benefits a strong civil society, will further miss out.
“Charities benefit us all – they connect us and provide support where there is nowhere else to turn. We hope this year to see people donating where they can, and have called on government to support giving.”