The figures from the Charities Aid Foundation tell a stark story. UK adults donated 5 per cent less than in 2014 last year, with the numbers dropping by £500m to £9.6bn. The shortfall suggests that austerity measures are biting hard, as people have little spare to give to worthy causes.
The figures also give a strong insight into charity donation in the UK, and these numbers provide a little hope. In short, although people are giving less, the way they are giving can change.
The most popular beneficiary of donations remain charities dealing with children and young people. Over thirty percent of people that responded to the CAF survey said they'd given to a cause like Save The Children in the last thirty days. That was followed by medical research and animal welfare.
However, the highest level of donations were given to religious causes, nearly £50 per pledge. This was followed by disaster relief. That's unsurprising, given that there is some overlap between the two.
The breakdown of donation by age group makes for interesting reading. 16-24 year olds are most likely to give to schools and educational establishments. From 25 to 44, you're more prone to donate to children and young people's causes. 45-64, and your concern becomes the environment and animal welfare. From 65 on, you'll be giving to religious causes and hospitals or hospices. All pretty logical, when you think about it. Sadly, there's also a clear split in the sexes, with men giving and volunteering less for good causes than women.
One in three of us sponsored someone for charity, and here is where I think there is room to increase the charity take. The growth of sites like JustGiving and Virgin Giving make it easier than ever to share the love. Initiatives like Movember are also helping to highlight and raise funds for good causes. This is a growth area of the market, and one that many charities could do well to explore.
The most interesting fact of all is that a majority of people still give to charity by cash–55 percent of respondents said they'd done so in the last thirty days. There's definitely a place for innovation in small-value charity donation. For example, restaurant chain Ask Italian offer the opportunity to give 25p to charity via donation platform Pennies when you pay your bill by debit or credit card.
Head of the Charities Aid Foundation John Low summed up the report by saying:
Our View: the numbers look bleak, but at the same time charities have a great opportunity to innovate and make it easier for people to give to their favourite good causes. It may be time to prioritise micro-payments as an addition to a shopping bill, or simply making it easier for people to donate online. Persuading more of us at every age group to give of our time is important too. We need to look past the gloomy headlines and find the motivation to do things differently.
"Charities need to work harder to motivate men to back good causes and, importantly in the long term, find new and better ways to get people involved in charitable giving at every age."Sporting fundraisers and appeals such as Movember have gone some way towards getting more men and young people giving, but it is clear that more still needs to be done."