Stephen Cotterill: Election campaign cycle is an opportunity for fundraisers

08 Apr 2024 In-depth

Charities should take the election campaign cycle as an opportunity to push the giving agenda.


Despite recording a £1.2bn annual increase in donations last year, the Charities Aid Foundation’s (CAF) UK Giving Report 2024 released towards the end of last month highlighted a couple of unsettling trends. First, that some of the least affluent areas in the UK were among the most generous, and second, that fewer people are giving.

The geographic differences are interesting as we see parliamentary constituencies in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland giving more on average in terms of percentage of income than many parts of England. Sheffield Hallam was the most generous, according to the report, with people donating 3.2% of their income to charity, while those in the new constituency of Kensington and Bayswater donated 0.5% of their household incomes. Perhaps not a new trend, but the first time it has been so starkly depicted.

The other trend is more worrying. On publishing the report, CAF chief executive Neil Heslop said the research showed that “we need to foster a more widespread and sustainable culture of giving to support charities that are squeezed from all sides” and that “government can set the tone by committing to drawing up a national strategy for philanthropy and charitable giving, ideally as part of a renewed approach to the whole of civil society in every part of the UK”.

With the likelihood of a new administration coming into power later this year, how optimistic is the sector that a Sir Kier Starmer-led government would prioritise such a strategy? By all accounts, not very. We have seen little from the opposition that suggests civil society would be bumped up the agenda if it came into power.

Admittedly, it is not a big vote winner on the campaign trail, so we can only hope that a new government would add more flesh to the bare bones currently outlined in manifestos. But now would be a good time for charities to lean into the electioneering cycle and put pressure on all political parties to consider a more concrete strategy to grow giving, were they to come to power.

@stevejcotterill is the editor of Fundraising Magazine

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