Fewer people in the UK regularly give to charity, with numbers down a third year in a row according to the Charities Aid Foundation’s UK Giving 2019 report, published today.
It found that the percentage who give money to charity directly or through sponsorship fell from 69 per cent in 2016 to 65 per cent in 2018.
CAF said this trend was "worrying" but NCVO and the Institute of Fundraising suggested it could reflect changes to how charities fundraise.
Those who do give are giving in larger amounts, with the overall household figure in 2018 comparable with the previous year at £10.1bn (2017: £10.3bn).
Trust in charities
The survey, which included over 12,000 interviews and data from 2016 to 2018, also found that just under half (48 per cent) found charities trustworthy, comparable to last year when the figure was 51 per cent.
The percentage who said they actively do not believe charities are trustworthy is up slightly from 19 per cent in 2016 to 21 per cent in 2017.
Susan Pinkney, head of research at CAF said: “With three years’ worth of data, we can now see a clear trend in people’s charitable giving and it is headed in a worrying direction.
“If people lack trust, that means they worry that their hard-earned money is not being well spent when donated to charities.
“This is a challenge that the entire charity sector needs to tackle head on and find ways to inspire people to give and demonstrate to them that their money is making a difference.”
Drop in people approached for donations
The report says fewer people have been approached for donations than in previous years, falling from 28 per cent in 2016 to 23 per cent in 2018.
The most common way people were approached for donations was through street fundraising, although numbers have fallen since 2017.
Fewer people were also asked to donate through the media, but fundraising online and donations via sponsorship stayed fairly consistent.
Daniel Fluskey, head of policy and external affairs at the Institute of Fundraising, said: “The UK continues to be a generous country in its support for charities and good causes, but we should recognise that it is a challenging external environment for fundraising.
“Over the last year or so charities have done a huge amount of work to review their strategies, invest in new approaches, and respond to changes in data protection legislation, which might have meant charities have had to pause some of their fundraising activity.
“The link between giving and asking is absolutely crucial – the research suggests that people are less likely to be approached for money, so it is not surprising that we see a correlation with a fall in asking to a reported drop in giving.
“At the same time, we know that charities have been really prioritising ensuring that their current supporters get the best experience of giving and we’re encouraged to see that the millions who do give to charity are tending to give more which is a real testament to the fundraising profession.
“As charities work in new and innovative ways in the future to reach out to new supporters we would expect the numbers of people giving to increase.”
Sir Stuart Etherington, chief executive of NCVO, said: “Fewer people giving larger sums reflects a year in which many charities were scaling back recruitment of new donors and focusing instead on cultivating their relationships with existing supporters.
“This is the result of a positive change in charities' fundraising strategies away from some of the approaches of the past.
“You see this reflected in fewer people saying they were approached for donations or seeing a charity appeal on television or on their doormats.
“While it means less income growth in the short term, charities believe having a core of more engaged and satisfied donors will lead to stronger support in the long term.”