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Charities face drop in income as younger people give less than over-60s

Younger people are not donating as much as older people born between the wars, according to research published by the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF). If the trend continues, UK charities will face a “donation deficit” as the older, more generous generation dies and is replaced by those born after 1965 (‘Generations X and Y’).

Findings of ‘Mind the Gap’

The study, ‘Mind the Gap: The growing generational divide in charitable giving: a research paper, by Professor Sarah Smith, of Bristol University, has found that:
• more than half of all donations now come from the over-60s, compared to just over one third of donations 30 years ago
• the over-60s are now more than twice as likely to give to charity as the under-30s.
• the over-60s are the only group that has increased its share of the total amount given to charity between 1978 and 2010: their share grew from 9% in 1980 to 21% in 2010. During the same period the under-30s’ share dropped from 8% to 3%.
• In 1980, 29% of the over-60s had given to charity, while the figure for those under 30 was 23%. Thirty years later, 32% of people over 60 said they had given to charities in the past fortnight, compared with just 16% of the under-30s.
The study contrasts the generosity of the inter-war generation, often referred to as ‘the Silent Generation’ (those born between 1925 and 1945) and those born in the immediate post-war baby boom, between 1945-1966.
For the study Smith analysed data from 1978 to 2010 comprising charitable giving in the UK by age and date-of-birth cohort.

“Charities face generation time-bomb” says CAF

CAF believes that urgent action is required to avert this long-term crisis of giving. John Low, Chief Executive of the Charities Aid Foundation, said: “We fear that charities will face a damaging donation deficit when people of the older generations pass away. That would severely hit the funding of charities, and their ability to deliver vital services on which so many people rely. This must be addressed now if charities are to survive and thrive”.


Why your supporters are wealthier than you think... Course by Catherine Miles. Background photo of two sides of a terraced street of houses.

CAF’s recommendations

It is therefore recommending that the following measures be introduced:
• Ensuring young people grow up giving – by making giving a central part of the National Curriculum and encouraging young people to take work experience and volunteer for charities.
• Encouraging young people to get involved in charities – by becoming trustees.
• Bringing Gift Aid into the digital age – by creating a national online Gift Aid registration scheme.
• Creating a strong culture of workplace giving – by reforming payroll giving and putting philanthropy at the heart of business.
• Introducing US-style ‘living legacies’ – which would help people to give their wealth to charity during their lifetimes rather than waiting to leave it to good causes in their will.
Low added: “We need clear steps to be taken in order to build up the culture of giving among younger people, to ensure that Britain continues to support the causes we all care about in the decades to come.”