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UK Charitable Giving Held Steady ‘Despite Brexit’

12 April 2017 at 3:33 pm
Lina Caneva
People are becoming more charitable in the UK with almost nine in 10 people (89 per cent) saying they did something “charitable” last year, according to a major not-for-profit study on giving.

Lina Caneva | 12 April 2017 at 3:33 pm


UK Charitable Giving Held Steady ‘Despite Brexit’
12 April 2017 at 3:33 pm

People are becoming more charitable in the UK with almost nine in 10 people (89 per cent) saying they did something “charitable” last year, according to a major not-for-profit study on giving.

The Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) annual UK giving report found that giving money to charity held steady last year despite huge political developments, such as Brexit, with donations totalling £9.7 billion (A$16.17 billion). And a month-by-month survey since the EU referendum showed no shift in people’s reported giving.

The report found that the giving trend was a significant increase on 2015 when 79 per cent of people said they did something “charitable”.

Well over half of the population donated money (61 per cent) or gave goods to charity (56 per cent) and one in six (17 per cent) volunteered

Medical research was the most popular cause. Just over one in four people (26 per cent) gave to a medical research charity last year, closely followed by animal welfare (25 per cent) and children and young people (24 per cent).

The median average contribution for a charitable donation or sponsorship was £18 (A$30). The report said cash was still the most common way for people to give, accounting for 58 per cent of people having donated in this way. Slightly more than one in four (26 per cent) gave online.

But CAF said there had been a “Brexit-effect” on other types of support for charities and causes, with volunteering and campaigning both up since the referendum.

More than half of UK adults (56 per cent) said they signed a petition in the past year. The number of people saying they had taken part in a public demonstration or protest was also comparatively high at 6 per cent – equivalent to three million UK adults.

People who voted in the EU referendum – whether they opted to remain or leave – were more likely to have done something charitable in 2016 than those who didn’t vote at all.

CAF chief executive John Low said: “While huge change was taking place all around us last year, one thing which remained consistent was the reliable and enduring generosity of people in the UK in their support of good causes.

“The consequences and impact of the EU referendum result are likely to become increasingly apparent over the months and years ahead.

“Our research shows that there has been no ‘Brexit-effect’ on charitable donations so far, but there has been a noticeable increase in people engaging in social and political issues. Numbers of people who said they signed a petition or took part in a protest or demonstration last year are the highest recorded in more than a decade of us producing this report.

“We know that people increasingly feel they want to make a difference and many see charities as a way to achieve that. Charities already play an integral role in the lives of so many. At this critical time in our nation’s history, their importance is only likely to increase.”

The study also found that:

  • Women were more charitable than men. 14 per cent of men said they had not participated in any charitable activity in the past year, compared with just 8 per cent of women.
  • Younger people were less likely to donate money than older people (54 per cent of 16 to 24 year olds donated in the last year, versus 68 per cent of those aged 65-plus) but they were more likely to volunteer, sign a petition or take part in a public demonstration or protest.
  • Charitable giving peaked in November. More than two-in-five people (41 per cent) said they had given in the month of high profile campaigns like Children in Need, the Poppy appeal and Movember.

The CAF UK giving report has been published annually since 2004. The report is in contrast to a CAF report in March which revealed that almost one in five UK charities feared their organisation was struggling to survive.

And The Social Landscape 2017 report, the UK’s biggest survey of charity chief executives, warned that the challenges facing charities were not about to get any easier.

“Charities are restructuring, downsizing and joining forces with other organisations as they struggle to raise enough money to meet growing demand,” the report said.

The survey revealed that rising demand and an increasingly tough financial environment may be pushing some organisations to breaking point.

“Almost one in five (18 per cent) fear their organisation is struggling to survive, rising to more than one in four (28 per cent) among charities with an annual income less than £1 million (A$1.62 million). More than a third had to dip into their reserves last year to cover income shortfalls,” the report found.

In Australia the release of the landmark Giving Australia research in December 2016 found that an estimated 14.9 million Australian adults (80.8 per cent) gave a total of $12.5 billion to charities and not-for-profit organisations over 12 months in 2015/16 (up from $7.7 billion in 2005).

In 2016 the average donation was $764.08 and the median donation was $200.

However the research pointed to a trend of fewer people giving more. While the percentage of people donating slightly decreased, the average donation increased in real terms by $210.16.

Lead researcher and director of Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies at QUT Associate Professor Wendy Scaife told Pro Bono Australia News that while Australia was seeing an improvement in giving overall in 2016 it was not “the gilded age of giving” that researchers noted when they started the project in 2005.

“Then we were coming off the back of 10 years of really strong economic growth… and when there is a strong economy there is strong giving,” Scaife said.

“It’s not the gilded age of giving. It’s not the wonderful growth in giving that we were noting back then but even though it is going ahead you would have to say with a note of caution it is starting to flatline.”

Lina Caneva  |  Editor  |  @ProBonoNews

Lina Caneva has been a journalist for more than 35 years. She was the editor of Pro Bono Australia News from when it was founded in 2000 until 2018.

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