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First months of lockdown saw public give extra £800m

First months of lockdown saw public give extra £800m

People in the UK gave £800 million more than usual to charity during the UK’s spring lockdown, but some causes missed out.

According to a special UK Giving & Covid-19 report by the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) into UK household giving, between January and June 2020, the public donated a total of £5.4 billion to charity – £800 million more than for the same period in 2019.

CAF found that giving during these first months of lockdown was at levels normally seen during the peak fundraising months of November and December when the Poppy Appeal, Children in Need and major are held.

In particular, there was a large increase in the number of people donating to or sponsoring ‘hospitals and hospices’ during the height of the pandemic’s first wave, while one in five people reported donating to charities which support the NHS.

However, the report also shows that some charities suffered unprecedented losses. Medical charities are among those hardest hit, losing an estimated £174 million in the first six months of 2020. Other causes that are normally among the most popular also experienced large drops in donations including animal charities and those supporting children and young people.

Neil Heslop, Chief Executive at the Charities Aid Foundation, said:

“There has never been a time in living memory when we have collectively been more aware of the value of charity in our lives and that is clearly borne out in this CAF report and in the generosity of the British people.

“It is also our sincere hope that these extraordinary levels of giving serve as and reminds us of what is possible when people come together to support the causes closest to their hearts.

“It is worth remembering that this is not about the charities themselves – at the end of the day it is about the causes they support, be they our neighbours, our friends, or our natural world. We need them all to survive and to thrive, for all of our sakes.”

More key findings include:

  • Cash donations saw a substantial drop off between March (34%) and April (13%) and remain at very low levels compared to previous years, reflecting halted charity tin collections, prize draws and other cash transactions.
  • The number of people giving via a website or app increased significantly over the same period (from 13% to 24%) and this remains at much higher levels than normal.
  • in charities, which increased during 2019 after three years of decline, has increased further since March 2020. The improvement is seen across different age groups and grades.
  • The public reported feeling anxious about their household finances early in the pandemic, although this did not result in giving less to charity.
  • By the end of April more people than usual reported that they intended to donate more in the next 12 months (12% vs. a long term average of 7%) – a figure that remains elevated.
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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