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CIOF asks how can we grow charitable giving in the UK


Charitable giving in the UK is facing a twin challenge, according to the Chartered Institute of Fundraising. Fewer people are donating to charity, and fewer people are being asked to give. So the Institute has launched a project to explore how to grow giving.

Many people are giving to charity and plenty are giving more than they used to, especially in response to COVID and the cost of living crisis. And skilled fundraisers are inviting and inspiring many of them to do so.

But the billions being donated are coming from a shrinking proportion of the population.

So the Chartered Institute is asking the questions:

What is causing this decline in people giving?

What needs to change so that more people give to charity?

Who can make it happen and how?

The aim of its project is to understand how to grow giving in the UK by inspiring more people to donate.

SEE ALSO: Giving Nation to continue beyond The Giving Campaign (31 March 2004)

It is beginning by asking its members for their insight and views. “As fundraisers you are the people closest to donors and the public,” argues the Institute in its announcement of the project. It added that its members would be the ones with “first-hand insight and evidence of how people are responding to fundraising and why giving behaviours may be changing”.

Number of donors is decreasing

Charities Aid Foundation’s UK Giving research revealed in 2022 that fewer people had been making a charitable donation since 2019. Throughout 2021 donation levels in each money were lower than their 2019 equivalent.

Similarly the UK government’s Community Life Survey found that in 2021/2022 about 30 million people in England donated to charity, compared with 33 million before the COVID pandemic.

Fewer people being asked to give?

The Institute is focusing on one area that might be addressed, asking if the decline in giving has been caused by a decrease in asking.

CAF also found that in 2021 32% of people were not asked to give to charity at all. This is an 11 percentage point increase from 2016.

Yet this contrasts with the UK population’s evident desire to give and support the causes that matter to them. Giving in response to the pandemic, the cost of living crisis, national and international disasters, the war in Ukraine, climate crisis and the fight for racial justice is still buoyant.

Insufficient investment in fundraising?

The Institute poses the question as to whether fewer people giving and fewer people being asked to give come down to a lack of investment in fundraising.

So its new project includes exploration of the link between investment in fundraising and the decline in giving. But its remit is wider than that.

How to take part

The Institute tells it members that “we’ll create as many opportunities as possible for you share your views with us”. These include:

a five-minute survey.

a series of roundtables on 18th April.

sharing your thoughts directly with Daniel Fluskey, Director of Policy and Communications.

Specific questions

The Institute has provided several questions to indicate the kind of contributions they are seeking:

What do you think are the reasons behind the year-on-year decline in the number of people giving to charity?

Why do you think fewer members of the public report being asked to give?

What do you think charities/fundraisers should be doing (either individually or together) to get more people giving?

What should others be doing to play their part to encourage more people to give? (Government, media, schools, tech companies, businesses etc.)

What is working in fundraising right now to attract new donors?

Do you have any other thoughts or data/evidence that could help us understand how to grow giving?

More on growing giving

Is it time for an X Prize for fundraising? (16 February 2017)

Who is thinking about the future of fundraising? (2 December 2019)

Let’s put philanthropy on the new one pound coin (1 October 2014)

New appointments at The Giving Campaign (22 December 2002)

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