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Charities must embrace technology to win younger supporters, says CAF research

Charities must embrace technology to win younger supporters, says CAF research

Charities need to become more tech-savvy to encourage younger people to give, according to the .

Research carried out with YouGov suggests that new charity apps, better online donation options, and more consistent use of social media should be priorities for charities looking to motivate the next generation of givers.

The paper Appetite for Donation shows that while only 8% of people have donated via an app, one in three (32%) young adults would give more if the technology was available.

Key findings:

  • Appetite for apps. Fewer than one in ten people (8%) have donated to charity using an app. By contrast, more than half of 18-to-34-year-olds use an app for their banking (53%). 32% of young adults say they would donate to charity in the next year if the technology was available. People would like a charity app to show how their donation is being spent (39%), see how a charity spends money more generally (33%) and to be able to search for charities dealing with particular issues (31%).
  • People are carrying less cash. Two in three adults (66%) now have contactless cards and many of those who use them (34%) carry less cash as a result. This poses a challenge for charities, with cash still being the most popular way for people to make ad hoc donations to good causes. One in three young adults (35%) said they would use contactless payments to give to charity if the option was available.
  • Translating ‘likes’ into donations. Over half of people who interact with charities on social media do not go on to donate to them. The likes of Facebook and Twitter have given charities opportunities to reach more people with one in three people saying they have followed or supported a charity on social media in the past 12 months. While there have been some notable successful social media based fundraising campaigns, there is potential for charities to do more to turn clicks into donations.
  • Online giving. Online giving still only accounts for less than £1 in every £7 donated to charities in the UK, according to previous CAF research. One in three young adults aged 18-34 (34%) have made an online ad hoc donation to a charity, compared to one in six people over 65 (17%). When it comes to future intent, more than six in ten (62%) younger adults believed they would donate online in the next year compared to one in three over 65s.
  • People prefer retailers which help them give to charity. Around half (48%) of adults are aware of the small change initiative, growing slightly among 18-34s (55%). This is the online equivalent of a collection tin by the till, where shoppers are given the option of ‘rounding up’ the cost of purchases with the difference going to charity. Almost one in three (29%) under 35s have donated in this way. And half of young adults (50%) say they would have a more positive impression of a retailer if it allowed them to donate in this way.

CAF’s head of research Susan Pinkney said:

“One of the big challenges facing charities is how to encourage younger people to emulate the generosity of their parents and grandparents’ generation. A 65-year-old is now almost twice as likely to donate to charity as someone in their early 20s.

“Young people in the UK tend to be very socially conscious and have a real appetite for supporting good causes. But this potential is not being fulfilled. To close this generational gap in giving, charities need to make it easier for young people to give.



Melanie May is a journalist and copywriter specialising in writing both for and about the charity and marketing services sectors since 2001. She can be reached via

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