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Numbers donating, sponsoring & volunteering still below pre-pandemic levels


The number of people donating, sponsoring others, and volunteering for charities remained below pre-pandemic levels in 2022, according to Charities Aid Foundation’s latest UK Giving report.

Looking across the year, CAF found that participation in charitable and civic activities in 2022 was similar to 2021 (83% in 2021, compared to 84% in 2022), but below pre-pandemic levels of 88%. 

Volunteering in 2022

Throughout 2022, 7% reported volunteering for a charity in the past four weeks, down from 9% in 2019. 13% said they volunteered in the last year, compared to 17% pre-pandemic. This, CAF says, represents around 1.6million fewer people volunteering over the past five years.

Giving statistics

Looking at giving, CAF found that across 2022, more than two thirds (69%) of people said they would need to make cuts to their spending to help manage bills, including 17% who said they would be likely to cut their charitable donations.

In addition, a quarter of people reported changing their charitable behaviours, including reducing or cancelling a regular charity donation (5%), and choosing not to make a one-off donation (10%).

Compared to the same months in 2021, March and April were the only months of 2022 when giving spiked – to 34% and 28% respectively – which CAF says was likely in reaction to the invasion of Ukraine. In March 2022, the average donation increased to £85 and remained high at £64 in April.

This contributed to an estimated £12.7 billion donated to charities in 2022, an increase of £2 billion compared to 2021. The increase in the overall amount given in 2022, the report says, is a result of people donating higher amounts, rather than more giving. However due to rising inflation, analysis from Pro Bono Economics suggests this may have been eroded by up to £0.5 billion.

Neil Heslop OBE, Chief Executive of the Charities Aid Foundation, said:

“It is worrying that we continue to see a declining number of people donating to charity alongside the drop in participation in fundraising events and volunteering due to Covid lockdowns, which now appear to be locked in.

“While the Government’s lifelines for charities this year may have been make or break for many, these findings show the next task is to come up with the policy solutions and incentives required to foster a more widespread culture of giving and participation in the UK.”

Top causes

The most popular causes for donations in 2022 were the same as in 2021, with animal welfare again at the top, with 28% of donors stating they had donated to this cause in the past four weeks. This was followed by causes related to children or young people, medical research, and overseas aid and disaster relief. Causes seeing declining support were hospital and hospice care, and those supporting homeless people, housing, and shelters.

As in 2021, religious organisations received the largest average donations in 2022. Notably, the report says, compared with 2021, on average they also received higher donations, at £92 versus £80. Overseas aid and disaster relief also saw significantly higher average donations (£47), compared to 2021 (£34).

Jansev Jemal, Research and Policy Director at Pro Bono Economics, commented:

“Charities have experienced a protracted period of difficulty since the outset of the pandemic. While managing a truly challenging triple threat of rising costs, income worries and spiralling demand, they continue to play their critical role supporting communities, providing services, and campaigning for change. It’s important that policymakers consider how they can support charities to raise more funds and to invest in the improvements they need.”

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