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Trust remains stable while 2017 donations hit £10.3bn, says CAF report

Trust remains stable while 2017 donations hit £10.3bn, says CAF report

CAF’s annual UK Giving report has revealed that donations hit £10.3bn in 2017, up from 2016’s £9.7bn although slightly fewer people gave. Trust in charities also remained stable last year, with around half the UK population (51%) agreeing that charities are trustworthy, consistent with 2016.

60% said they had donated in 2017 (from 61% in 2016) while 35% had sponsored someone (down from 37% in 2016).  However, those that do give are giving more, according to the CAF’s UK Giving report, which includes interviews with more than 12,000 people conducted by YouGov throughout last year. £20 was the median monthly amount given by a donor in 2017 (up from £18), with the average (mean) amount up from £40 to £44.

Cash remains the main way of donating, decreasing slightly in 2017 from 58% to 55% of those who gave last year. In second place was buying goods (43% ), then buying a raffle or lottery ticket (40%), direct debit (32%) and online (32%). 10% had given by text.

The report also found that men are less charitable than women, but on average give more. Men in fact are more than twice as likely as women to say that they rarely or never give to charity (25% vs. 12%). Women are also still more likely to participate in charitable and social activity and are also giving more financially than before. The report found the average monthly donation for women has increased from £35 to £42 closing the gap on men. Older people continue to give the most, but for the first time since the survey began in 2004, 16-24 year olds gave more than those aged 25-34.

The most popular cause is still medical research, given to by 26%, followed by animal welfare (24%), children or young people, hospitals and hospices, and overseas aid and disaster relief (all 23%). As with previous years, the arts and sports and recreation remain the least popular causes for UK donors to give to, both 3% and the same levels as those recorded in 2016.

Sir John Low, CAF Chief Executive, said:

“Although total donations are slightly up, the number of people giving has fallen. It’s far too soon to tell if that represents a trend, but we need to be careful if giving becomes concentrated in fewer, larger donations.

“It is telling that men are less likely to give money than women, although those who do on average give more, men are also less likely to volunteer. But the good news is that young millennials seem to be giving more than in previous years and that bodes well for the future.

“Crucially, we note that trust in charities remains stable. While we in charities must always strive for the best and never be complacent about the high standards expected of us, the enduring trust people have in our country’s voluntary sector should be a source of pride, and something precious we need to protect.”

Responding to the report, Peter Lewis, chief executive of the Institute of Fundraising said:

“The charity sector is built on the donations that people give to causes they care about. The British public continue to be generous and we’re pleased to see this report estimating an increase of around half a billion pounds in the total amount given to charity.

“This pays tribute to the hard work and dedication of the thousands of fundraisers across the UK who create innovative campaigns and inspire millions of people to give. It’s heartening to see that on average the amount that people say they donate to charity has increased.

“However, there are findings in the report which give us pause for thought. We continue to see a demographic disparity with men giving less than women, and the slight decrease in sponsorship levels suggests that fewer people gave money in 2018 than the previous year. Fundraisers will be thinking about strategies to address this and how they can get more people giving, and people giving more.”

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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