The proportion of people who say they have recently made a charity donation has decreased by a fifth since January.
Research and consultancy nfpSynergy regularly polls 1,000 British adults about their giving behaviour for its Charity Awareness Monitor.
Only 54% of August respondents said they gave to charity in the previous three months, down from 60% in May and 69% in January.
This is the lowest percentage the monitor has ever recorded since nfpSynergy started it in 2010.
Middle-aged people less likely to give
The biggest drop in the proportion of charity donors was seen among middle-age people.
The proportion giving went from 71% in January to 45% in August among 45-to-54 year-olds, and from 67% to 45% among 55-to-64 year-olds – a decrease of 26 and 22 percentage points respectively.
nfpSynergy said this could be linked to the impact of home schooling and the need to provide support for elderly relatives.
The percentage of people who said they gave less in the past 12 months than in previous years was also at a record high – 28% against 18% in January.
People more concerned about businesses than charities
The survey also found that charities were not at the forefront of respondents’ minds when thinking about the impact of the pandemic on different sectors.
Nearly half of respondents (49%) said they are “extremely concerned” or “very concerned” about the impact on charities – the same percentage as for pubs and restaurants, and but lower than the concern for small businesses (62%) or tourism businesses (54%).
This comes despite most respondents (67%) saying that they have “definitely” or “probably” heard of charities losing out on income because of Covid-19.
Most respondents (54%) were also unable to name any charities working to respond to coronavirus. Mind and the British Red Cross were those mentioned most often (by 6% of respondents each).
Some people uncomfortable with public fundraising
Three in five (62%) respondents said that charities should continue to fundraise during the outbreak.
However, people felt more comfortable with visiting a charity shop than with public fundraising – a quarter of respondents (26%) said they felt “quite” or “very” uncomfortable at the idea of going to a charity shop, against a third (33%) for taking part in a charity event, and 42% for engaging with a door-to-door fundraiser.
Giving by direct debit and through a charity’s website rose among people who give, but was stable among the general public, reflecting the overall decrease in the number of donors.
Unsurprisingly, both events fundraising and charity shops purchases were significantly down from January.
People ‘most concerned’ about cancer patients
Finally, the survey asked people about which charity beneficiaries they are most worried for.
It found the highest levels of worry for people living with cancer and with respiratory diseases, with 64% and 63% of respondents saying they are “extremely” or “very” concerned about them.
Older people, people with underlying health conditions and people living with heart diseases were next. Conversely, respondents were least concerned about prisoners, pets and people living in immigration detention centres.
Charities should continue to fundraise
According to nfpSynergy, the survey’s results should not stop charities from fundraising.
nfpSynergy said: “The appetite to give is there, charities need to provide the opportunities. And that will mean using the full range of fundraising channels that are still open to them; TV, direct mail, telephone and online fundraising.
“It means thanking regular givers for sticking with them through this very tough time. It means running more (yes more!) online quizzes. It means making shops as safe a space as they possibly can be, or moving them online.”