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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

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"A worrying picture": Concerns as UK charity donations drop

This news post is over 1 year old

Despite the reduction in 2021, those across Scotland reported an average monthly donation of £55 in 2021.

The number of people giving to charity in the is declining significantly, a new report has warned, as the total donated to organisations by Scots totalled nearly £900million last year. 

The Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) UK Giving report is the largest study of household donor behaviour in the UK and this latest research tracks giving trends throughout 2021 and into the first four months of 2022 as the pandemic recedes.

CAF estimates that the £10.7 billion was given across the UK during 2021, a substantial decrease from the £11.3billion given in 2020. 

Inflationary pressures also mean that in real terms, it is likely that charities will have fewer financial resources as the cost of living crisis hits organisations hard.  

Throughout 2021, only 58 per cent of people in Scotland said they donated or sponsored someone in the previous 12 months, compared to 64 per cent in 2020. 

The average monthly donation reported in Scotland for 2021 was £55, just edging above the UK average of £52.

A total of £896m was donated to charities by people in Scotland during 2021. 

Neil Heslop OBE, chief executive of CAF UK, said: “This report will be sombre reading for the charity sector. Despite the huge generosity shown by the public to support charities helping people in Ukraine, our research shows a very concerning trend of fewer people giving to charity overall.

“Despite the return of opportunities for fundraising events following a dampened couple of years, we have seen donation levels fall even further.

"Combined with rising living costs affecting donations to charities currently and in the months to come, this paints a worrying picture for the future of many charities who rely on mass giving.”

Although the number of people giving has been steadily decreasing since 2016, this trend stalled during the initial stages of the pandemic. But as life returns to normal, donations and sponsorship are continuing to fall below pre-pandemic levels- a trend which is consistent across age groups and regions.

Although face-to-face fundraising events are resuming, across the UK, only 13% of people have given in this way in 2022, compared to 23% in the same months in 2019.

The only exception has been the spike in donations to charities helping people affected by the crisis in Ukraine, as the UK public responded with record-setting generosity. 

In March 2022, more than a third of people in Scotland (35 per cent) said they had donated money specifically in response to the crisis, and more than one in ten (12 per cent) donated goods to the cause. 

Across the UK, the average donation increased to £85 – significantly higher than usual levels, representing the largest monthly donation average CAF has ever recorded in its UK Giving research.

Amidst rising living costs, six in ten (62 per cent) people in Scotland said that they were considering cutting back to help manage their bills, and around one in seven in Scotland (14 per cent) are currently considering cutting back on donations to charity in the next six months. 

CAF research shows that animal welfare continues to be the most popular cause area, with 28 per cent of Scottish donors giving directly to this area in the past four weeks in 2021. 

Medical research is more popular in Scotland than the rest of the UK, supported by one in four of Scottish donors, compared to 21 per cent across the UK. 

The third most popular cause area to support is children or young people, which 24 per cent of Scots donors support. 

Mr Heslop added: “We know that during times of crisis, people respond with generosity, as shown by the tremendous charitable efforts during the pandemic, and the significant donations towards humanitarian aid to help those fleeing conflict in Ukraine. 

“We would urge the British public to give what they can to these charities supporting the most vulnerable in our society or consider helping in other ways, such as through volunteering.”



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about 1 year ago

The problem is this represents loss of activity. Which will fall on an already struggling public sector. It also represents less jobs both directly and indirectly (suppliers of services and goods). It’s in effect the beginning of a recession.