John Robertson MP has arranged a Westminster Hall debate on trends in donations to charities. He recognises the important role charities play across the country and how many rely solely on donations to keep going.
The charity sector is in crisis. Towards the end of last year, charities announced a 20% drop in donations and one in six said it is facing closure this year if something does not change. We rely heavily on charities to support the most vulnerable in our society – in fact the Government’s ‘Big Society’ puts them at the heart of this.
Charities provide much needed – and often niche – services. One charity for example, One in Four, says that it relies on donations and yet 80% of its clients are referred to them by the NHS. Another example comes from my constituency, where there are now more senior citizens than sixteen year olds. The Glasgow Old People’s Welfare Association provides support and care for these elderly people who are struggling with soaring living costs. It is clear that charities play critical role in our society and we need to protect them.
This January it is make or break for hundreds of voluntary organisations across the country. Welfare reform and the reduction in child benefit allowances are going to hit charities from all directions. Vulnerable people are facing difficult times and more people will be turning to our voluntary organisations for support. This trend has already begun, with the Trussell Trust charity doubling the number of food banks it oversees. From the other direction, charities are suffering from decreased personal budgets. Those who could afford to give in the past are having to make sacrifices – and charity donations are, unfortunately, one of the first things to go.
It is time we did something to protect these vital support lines. In this debate I will be looking at ways we can increase donations from the public, as well as making donations go that little bit further by improving and modernising the Gift Aid system. The rise in new technologies also provides both a threat and opportunity to charities. While online marketplaces are strong competition to charity shops, we could do more to encourage donations through the internet and in other ways.
The Government wanted to make charities a pillar of its support system. It therefore needs to put more resources into ensuring they are able to fulfil this role. We are facing a bleak 2013 if nothing is done and I hope through this debate we can protect the thousands of people who rely on our great British charities.
John Robertson is MP for Glasgow North West.
The Westminster Hall debate is 4.30 - 5pm on Tuesday 8 January.
Response: Charities Aid Foundation
"We are delighted that John Robertson MP is leading today's debate on the subject of charitable donations. Pressure on the services that charities provide is greater than ever, particuarly as donations are in decline and government funding is being stripped back.
"Mr Robertson quotes CAF’s UK Giving report and states that charitable giving has plummeted by 20% in 2011/12 – a completely unprecedented decline. A CAF survey of charity chief executives also found that 26% had cut frontline services and 25% had made staff cuts.
"In response, alongside the NCVO, we have launched the Back Britain’s Charities campaign and urge everyone to sign-up. The campaign seeks to highlight the valuable work charities do within our communities, often providing help for the most vulnerable amongst us. We want the government, businesses, the public and charities themselves to work together to secure the future of the voluntary sector and protect the vital contribution charities make to our society.”