Quarter of donors giving less due to cost-of-living crisis, research suggests

20 Oct 2022 News


One-in-four current charity donors, 26%, are giving less because of the cost-of-living crisis, according to Pro Bono Economics’ (PBE) analysis of YouGov statistics.

The new YouGov figures, based on a survey of 2,009 members of the public, show that most respondents think charities should be “lobbying the government” during the crisis. 

Meanwhile, PBE estimates that inflation over the last 12 months has eroded roughly half a month’s worth of charity reserves on average.

Donations cut

A blog by Matt Whittaker and Jack Larkham, at PBE, reads: “One-in-four (26%) existing financial donors report that the cost-of-living crisis has caused them to give less money to charities, with only one-in-ten (10%) reporting an increase. 

“While there is no data here on the value of the changes being made in either direction, it seems fair to assume that this adds up to a scaling back of financial support for charities just at the moment at which they are most needed.”

The blog notes a quarter say the cost-of-living crisis makes it more likely that they will give to charity, while 27% say it makes it less likely that they will do so. 

Likewise, the one-in-five who say they are more likely to volunteer time “are almost entirely offset” by the 18% who say they are less likely to do so. 

Public support charities’ right to campaign

YouGov also asked members of the public what support charities should provide during the cost-of-living crisis.

Signposting (58%), shelter (57%) and support (56%) were the top three responses but lobbying the government (53%) and “campaigning for change” (45%) also scored highly.

“Overall, the responses highlight a recognition on the part of the public of the very wide range of ways in which the social sector provides support in both the near-term and the more medium-term,” said PBE’s blog.

The YouGov research was based on a total sample size of 2,009 adults. Of these, 409 said they didn’t donate to charities and were removed from this analysis. 

Fieldwork was undertaken on 14 and 15 September 2022, and the survey was carried out online. 

Inflation hitting reserves

This week, the Office for National Statistics reported that the consumer prices index (CPI) rose by 10.1% in the 12 months to September 2022, up from 9.9% in August.

Jamie O’Halloran, an economist at PBE, said the think tank estimates that charities’ reserved have reduced by about a half a month’s worth on average over the past year due to high inflation.

“Many charities are already seeing a marked increase in demand for help. Yet just as charities face rising levels of need, the pressures on household budgets mean people are reducing donations,” he said.

“Meanwhile, existing charity resources are stretching less far. We estimate that inflation over the last 12 months has eroded roughly half a month’s worth of charity reserves on average.”

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