Cash donations at charity shops in the UK have dropped by 18% in recent years, according to new data.
Charity Finance magazine’s Charity Shops Survey 2022 shows that charities have lost £2.2m in cash donations since 2019.
The annual survey, which collected data from 49 charities this year, asked respondents how they performed post-pandemic and how they believe the current economic challenges are likely to affect their retail operations in the foreseeable future.
Cash donations are declining
The Covid-19 pandemic prompted people to give less cash to charities, once the country’s most popular way of giving.
According to the Charities Aid Foundation’s UK Giving Report 2022, cash giving reached its lowest level during the third lockdown in 2021 (23% of donors had made a cash donation in the past 12 months), before peaking at 39% in December of that year.
Out of the 41 charities that completed the 2019 and 2022 Charity Shops Surveys, 39 disclosed how much cash people gave them.
Overall, these charities collected around £10m last year, 18% less than in 2019.
For example, donations at Douglas Macmillan Hospice and DEBRA were down 81% and 78% respectively.
In contrast, some charities saw their levels of donations rise sharply. The Children’s Society collected £67,264, a staggering 5,938% increase on the £1,114 it took in 2019. Cash donations also rose dramatically at All Aboard Shops, reaching £2,619, a 689% rise, and at Sense which took £164,615, a 349% increase.
Cost-of-living crisis hits donations to the sector
Respondents said in the latest survey that people have cut back on charitable donations due to the cost-of-living crisis and reduced disposable incomes.
Some pointed out that the quality of donated stock has worsened as an increasing number of people are holding onto their goods longer before donating.
Cornwall Hospice Care commented: “The cost-of-living crisis will bring risk to our retail business. Many donors may sell their own goods themselves to generate cash. We may need to reduce prices as the quality of donations fall. A very tough year ahead.”
FORCE Cancer Charity said: “People are certainly being more careful with money due to uncertainties but this may mean that they choose to be savvy and shop more in charity shops for the bargains.”
And St Margaret’s Hospice Care said: “Historically, we have seen footfall in charity shops increase in times of economic hardship. Although, there is a concern that we may suffer from a lack of good quality donations if people choose not to buy new and in turn do not donate their preloved items to us.”