There’s a lot going on in our world right now, and it’s easy to feel as though caring for one’s fellow humans has become less of a priority for people. But the facts and figures tell a different story. According to research by the Charities Aid Foundation, The UK is in the top ten of charitable nations, and has been for the last several years. But how are we giving, and how else are we getting involved?
Charity in The UK
Charity has been at the heart of British society for as long as we can remember. You can find a charity shop tucked away on almost any high street, some of the world’s best-known music charities have been started by Brits, and even a few of our cultural icons were put through school as a result of charitable support.
For the last five years, and including the statistics for 2017, the UK has consistently hovered between sixth and eighth place on the CAF World Giving Index rankings, with the UK Giving Report showing that the levels of both our donations and active involvement are seemingly unaffected by Brexit or any other socio-political factors. There have, however, been a few minor shifts in the types of donations and involvement over the last few years.
Giving money out of our own pockets is by far the most popular way that Brits show their willingness to contribute to the betterment of society as a whole, and to supporting causes close to their hearts. An impressive 61% of Brits who were polled in the CAF surveys indicated that they donated money to charity during the last year. And, during 2016, these types of donations reached a staggering £9.7 billion, which was on par with donations made during 2015.
But it’s not just how much we donate that counts - it’s how we do it that tells an interesting story. Despite the ever-growing presence of social media and the rise of online fundraising and donation options, only 26% of the survey respondents - primarily people aged between 25 and 44 - said that they use these methods to donate, while just 18% said that social media had inspired them to contribute. The vast majority us have continued to donate through traditional methods and campaigns that have been going for several years.
Nevertheless, online media is having some positive effect, as was seen during November 2016, when the powerful and emotional online video content for the Poppy Appeal and Movember campaigns helped contribute to a considerable spike in charitable giving. This giving came alongside the annual Children in Need event, which also helped make November the best month for charitable giving overall, with 41% of respondents confirming they had donated during that month.
Of course, not all charitable contributions come in the form of money. There have always been those who give of their time instead of (or as well as) digging into their pockets, and volunteerism and participation are growing in popularity as a way to help our society along.
While there are - and likely always will be - older stalwarts in the legions of those volunteering in charity shops, shelters for both people and animals, or the multitude of organisations that make up the British charity landscape, this seems to be increasingly the purview of younger people. Young people, the study indicates, are far more likely than their older counterparts to volunteer, take part in public demonstrations or protests, or sign petitions.
How We Give
Older people and those who are employed full-time are significantly more likely to give money directly to a charity, or to contribute either through payslip giving - 5% of employees - or give through a variety of workplace-based options. In fact, 58% of employees said they had given in a cause based at the workplace, with 30% sponsoring colleagues, 24% donating to fundraising appeals, and 22% saying they’d bought an item in a charity sale at work.
What’s particularly interesting to note is where else we are giving money. The most popular ongoing cause to which people have donated is medical research, which makes up over one-quarter of all charitable donations. If you look a little more closely at specific areas, however, the picture changes. Homelessness is a cause that’s important to Londoners, with 26% of donations compared to a UK average of 18%. People in Wales and the South-West are quite concerned with environmental causes, with 19% of donors giving to these causes, compared to a UK-wide 12% average. And the West Midlands seems to strongly favour hospitals and hospices, with a whopping 30% of donors giving to these, compared to a national average of 22%.
If you’d like to find out more about how British people give to charity, you can download a free copy of the CAF UK Giving Report here, or you can watch a video about the report here, and find out just how generous we are, and what causes mean the most to us.