In the UK the giving of both time and money is a "minority sport", the minister for civil society has said.
"As a nation we spend as much on charity as we do cheese", Nick Hurd said, speaking at the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) fringe event at Conservative conference.
Of crucial importance at a time when many charities are facing a real crunch in finances, Hurd pressed for the need to empower young people to give.
"We have got to make this exciting and relevant for young people", he said.
Referring to the government's "charity tax" u-turn, earlier in the year, which would have seen the removal of tax breaks from wealthy donors to good causes, Hurd said CAF did an excellent job in "duffing up" the government.
"I still bear the scars", he said.
Chief executive of the Charities Aid Foundation, John Low said that most charitable organisations would cease to exist if it were not for the personal generosity of others.
Yet he reiterated Hurd's call to engage young people in giving, as since the 1980s donations from older people have doubled but those from younger people have halved.
"I'm not trying to reverse shift or suggest that young people are not generous, but we urgently need to find a way to tackle this generational donation deficit", he said.
Rory Stewart MP said the development of a professional charity culture in the third sector, might be part of the reason for a fall in giving.
"I suspect we might have created charities that are further removed from what the public want", he said.
He noted a common concern within his constituency in Cumbria that charities are being taken over by bigger super charities.
Author of CAF's new research paper, 'Mind the gap'– the growing generational divide in charitable giving', Professor Sarah Smith of the University of Bristol, said there has been a "systematic decline" in household donations.
The paper, which goes back 30 years, demonstrates how generations born in the 50's, 60's and 70's give less than their parents and grandparents.
Professor Smith said the decline in charitable giving matches a similar decline in levels of political engagement, so it could perhaps be attributed to a wider issue within civic society.