Religious causes receive lion’s share of UK giving

10 May 2019

Religious organisations received 19 per cent of all the money donated in 2018

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FEWER people in the UK are donating money to charity, but people who do donate are giving larger amounts — the largest to religious causes, the latest UK Giving study has found.

The annual report from the Charities Aid Foundation, published this week, is based on more than 12,000 responses to an online survey, and interviews conducted monthly over a year. In 2018, more than 6800 respondents (57 per cent) said that they had donated to charity in the past year — down three per cent on the previous year (60 per cent). Sponsored giving also decreased three per cent, to 32 per cent.

Based on this reported giving, the overall estimate of household giving in the UK in 2018 was a steady £10.1 billion — down slightly from £10.3 billion for 2017. “Fewer people are giving, but those that did are giving higher levels of money,” the report explains.

Religious organisations received 19 per cent of all the money donated in 2018 — more than £1.9 billion — but from only 12 per cent of donors. This was the largest portion out of more than 15 charitable sectors, including overseas aid and disaster relief (11 per cent), medical research (ten per cent), and children or young people (nine per cent).

“This is due to the high level of the mean donations for this cause,” the report says. The average donation to religion causes from respondents who had donated in the past year was £35, compared with the smallest average annual donations of £5 — for elderly people and sports and recreation. The average donation to religious causes in the past four weeks was £74, compared with £59 in 2017, and £60 in 2016.

Overseas aid, and disaster relief and the arts received the next largest average donation a month: both £30. The average donation for schools, colleges, universities, and other educational institutions in 2018 remained at £21, after falling from £46 in 2016. More people said that they had donated smaller amounts in the past month, however, to animal welfare (26 per cent), children or young people (26 per cent), and medical research (25 per cent) than hospitals and hospices (20 per cent) or overseas aid or disaster relief (18 per cent).

Overall figures for reported giving in the past month were lower, but largely unchanged from previous years: 31 per cent of respondents said that they had donated to a charity in the past four weeks compared with 32 and 33 per cent in 2017 and 2016 respectively. Sponsorship was down from 11 per cent in 2016 to eight per cent in 2018.

Sponsorship was highest in the warmer months [April to October in 2017 and 2018] owing to sporting events. “The pattern seen in 2018 echoes that of 2017, though June was a particularly high month in 2017 [15 per cent], which may have been caused by people responding to the Manchester Arena bomb attack in May of that year.”

Peak donation months remain in November and December, because of “key” campaigns such as the centenary of the First World War, Movember, Children in Need, and Christmas appeals, it says.

The report also suggests that public trust in the charitable sector is declining: 48 per cent of respondents agreed that they believed charities to be trustworthy, compared with 51 per cent in 2016. The chief executive of the Charities Aid Foundation, Sir John Low, writes in his foreword that the decline in trust in charities should be a chief concern. “Charities underpin our way of life. They provide the foundation for our cultural, religious, and educational establishments large and small. . .

“The decline of trust in institutions is a global phenomenon, affecting all sectors. But it is something we in civil society should take seriously. People are not obliged to give. They give because they are inspired.”

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