People are feeling the pinch.
Fiona McEvoy, Charities Aid Foundation
A new report has revealed a steep drop in the amount of money being donated to UK charities.
The public gave £1.7bn less to charity in 2011/12 than the previous year, according to the report, compiled by the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) and the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO).
The drop was 15% in cash terms and 20% in real terms (i.e. adjusted for inflation) between 2010/11 and 2011/12.
The report is based on an annual survey of more than 3,000 people conducted the Office for National Statistics.
Fiona McEvoy from CAF told Central Lobby that it is the largest drop in the survey’s eight-year history and is reflective of a range of factors, including the poor state of the economy and donors having less disposable income.
“People are feeling the pinch,” Ms McEvoy said.
“The survey suggested as many as one in three people have cut back.
“Small and medium sized charities, who make up the bulk of the sector, are being hit hardest, but the household names are also feeling it.”
The report says that some charities are closing front-line services and making redundancies, while others face closure.
Medical research, hospitals and hospices, and children and young people are the most popular causes among donors, but religious causes received the largest average donations.
Women continue to be more likely to give to charity than men, with 58% of women giving to charity in a typical month compared with 52% of men.
Cash is the most common form of giving (over 50%) in 2011/2012. Direct debit accounts for 31% of the total amount donated, an increase of 6% from 2010/2011.
The report revealed that the proportion of people donating to charitable causes in a typical month fell from 58% to 55% in the past year and the average amount donated per month has fallen from £11 to £10.
However, more than half of the UK’s adults, 28.4m people, gave to charity.
“We are not saying that Britain is not a generous country,” Ms McEvoy said. “This is not an exercise in telling people they are stingy, but let’s do what we can to support the many great charities in the UK.”
Today CAF and NCVO are launching a campaign to Back Britain’s Charities, aimed at ensuring that the vital work of charities can continue.
“We are talking to the public asking them to give more regularly, however little or much that might be,” Ms McEvoy said.
“The campaign is a call to arms to government, business, the public and the sector.”
Ms McEvoy said that government is being asked to “bring Gift Aid up to date, making it digital and universal”.
“Payroll giving is a great idea but can be bureaucratic and we want government to look at that and make it work better for businesses and employees. The take-up rate is quite low and could be better.”
CAF also wants government to ensure that public bodies do not cut funding for charities disproportionately when making spending reductions and for business to support charities either through donations, or through practical means.
Charities must also work together with the government to modernise and improve fundraising and enhance their impact, so that every pound given goes further towards helping beneficiaries.
Ms McEvoy said one thing the public can do to help is to commit to regular donations through direct debit, and give using Gift Aid, so charities can plan properly.