Number of people giving to charity is lowest in a decade, poll finds

18 Jun 2020 News

The number of people who say they have given to charity in the past three months is at a record low, a survey has found.

Some 60% of the 1,000 people surveyed in May by research and consultancy firm nfpSynergy said they had made a donation in the previous three months, against 69% in January.

The firm has regularly commissioned the poll since July 2011, and the May figure is the lowest it has ever found. 

Despite the overall downward trend, data also shows that giving via charities’ websites increased to record levels, partially compensating for losses from other fundraising channels.

Increase in donation amounts

The proportion of people donating decreased across all age groups, but especially among donors between 55 and 64 (from 67% to 50%) and between 45 and 54 (from 71% to 57%). Among 16 to 24 year-olds, they were almost stable instead, going from 68% to 67%.

While the number of donors was down, the average amount given stood at £67.70, the highest ever. The same figure was £57.10 in January.

Some 38% of respondents said the would “definitely” or “probably” cut back on their charity donations in the next 12 months.

Website giving on the rise

While giving via charity shops and on-street cash collections unsurprisingly dropped, the survey also finds that 30% of donors gave directly via a charity’s website, which is the highest it has ever been.

Other giving channels that saw an increase in use were direct debits, debit and credit cards, and text messages.

Data from software firm The Access Group looking at 423 websites of small and medium charities with an income under £5m backs up the findings about websites.

Those charities saw donations through their websites double year-on-year in March (+112%) and quadruple in April (+304%). In May, website giving levels decreased compared to the previous month, but were still about twice as much as in 2019.

In January and February, before the Covid-19 lockdown, year-on-year growth stood at 36% and 24% respectively.

Simon Baines, managing director not for profit at The Access Group, said: “What’s clear from our data is that those charities ready with websites set up for online giving were one step ahead. They were able to react quickly with their calls for support, ultimately benefiting from the public’s sentiment to give during lockdown. 
“This highlights just how crucial it is for charities to have a strong presence online, in both their websites and their use of digital engagement with supporters. Charities behind the curve may have missed out and it’s all the more important now that those charities give focus to their digital transformation to be able to compete.

“It’s about making it as easy as possible for the public to give so that charities can achieve more.” 

Earlier this month, Virgin Money Giving released data showing a sharp decrease in donations to charities (excluding NHS charities) via the platform, which were down by 44% in the first four weeks of lockdown.

Civil Society Media’s next Fundraising First Thing takes place on 30 June 2020 and is exploring storytelling through social. From social media to campaigns and websites - engaging content is key to getting your message across and driving support. This session will look at how three charities have redeveloped their content strategies and the lessons they have learned along the way. View the programme and book online here..

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