The value of charitable donations in the UK fell by more than half last year to £4.3bn, according to a new report.
Benefact Group’s inaugural Value of Giving report says that charitable donations fell by £5bn in 2022 from £9.3bn the year before, which it attributes to increased living costs for UK households and soaring bills over the past year.
The report also says that while the average cash value of donations and amount of time spent volunteering have decreased during the cost-of-living crisis, the number of people giving and volunteering is higher than pre-pandemic levels.
It says that 76% of UK adults donated to charity in 2022, up from 64% in 2018-19, but average amount given by those donating over a year has more than halved since the beginning of the pandemic, falling from £261 in 2018-19 to £101 in 2022.
Meanwhile, the research estimated that the annual value of voluntary work to the economy was £18.7bn.
Therefore, in 2022 the combined value of volunteering and donations came to £23bn, representing 0.8% of total UK GDP.
The £23bn figure is larger than the sports and gambling sector, at £18.4bn, and the UK tourism industry, £2.3bn, combined.
Average volunteering hours halved
The research says the value of volunteering rose sharply in the last decade, from £11.2bn in 2011 to £18.7bn in 2019. This fell to £11bn during the 2020 lockdowns and rose back to £18.7bn in 2022.
Benefact Group’s report found average volunteering hours have halved since 2020, from 12 hours over a four-week period to six hours in 2022.
The report also found that while the average cash value of donations and amount of time spent volunteering have decreased during the cost-of-living crisis, the number of people giving and volunteering is higher than pre-pandemic levels.
Mark Hews, group chief executive of Benefact Group, said: “The charity sector is a cornerstone of British society and this report quantifies the combined value of the charitable donations and volunteering to the economy, for the first time.”
The research in the report was based on analysis of the UK Household Longitudinal Survey (UKHLS), which provides detailed information on life in the UK at an individual level.
The UKHLS tracks a large sample of more than 34,000 adults in the UK over time and includes questions on the frequency and volume of voluntary work, and the frequency and level of charitable donations.
Charlotte Weatherley, policy manager at the Chartered Institute of Fundraising, said: “The decline in charitable giving found in this research comes at a time when demand for services is at an all time high and must be addressed so charities and the communities they work with can thrive. There are many signs that the public will give when asked and last few years have seen some remarkable peaks in giving.
“Our members and partners are continuously exploring new ways to make giving a positive and rewarding experience for different demographics. But if we want to see a step change in giving, then there needs to be more support and investment in fundraising.”