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New research shows positive outlook from charities despite challenges

While it’s easy to focus on doom and gloom with the continuing uncertainty over Brexit and the economy hanging over us, two reports came out last month that reveal that, despite some challenges, the charity sector for one is not standing still.

In fact, the reports – Charities Aid Foundation’s 2019 UK Giving Report, and the IoF and PwC’s Fundraising for Impact – show that charities in general are forging ahead to ensure future sustainability, making positive changes to build trust and relationships, and working hard to innovate and raise more funds.

For Fundraising for Impact, the IoF and PwC surveyed over 100 fundraising charities of varying sizes. Despite concerns over increasing costs and how the economy uncertainty might affect how people give and demand for services, it found charities predicting a 10% growth in income over the next three years, and continuing to invest.

Fundraising priorities for the future

The IoF and PwC study asked charities to identify their main fundraising priorities, highlighting the top three as improving the experience of their current supporters (63%), reaching out to find new ones (59%), and innovation and trying new things (53%). Exploring new partnerships was also key.

Crucially, it seems these priorities are also being backed up financially, with the most important areas of investment stated being finding new supporters (91%) and improving the experience of current supporters (90%). Three quarters of respondents to this survey also said their charity’s investment in generating voluntary income was of the utmost importance.

Challenges to overcome  

Certainly CAF’s UK Giving 2019 report, which covers data collected monthly from 2016-2018 and comprising more than 12,000 individual interviews, points to a need to invest in the supporter experience. It found that the number of regular givers in the UK fell for the third year in a row during 2018 with 65% of the British public either giving money to charity directly or sponsoring a friend or family member in 2018, down from 69% in 2016.

Trust has also continued to decline with just under half (48%) of people in 2018 saying they believe charities to be trustworthy – down from 51% in 2016. Less people engaged in other social actions too in 2018, such as signing petitions, and taking part in local public consultations.

Giving insights

Those that do give financially are giving more however, according to CAF, with overall donations levels remaining fairly static at around £10 billion last year.

Some causes, of course, also fare better than others, with CAF’s report putting children/young people, and animal welfare in joint top spot for 2018. 26% of people said they had given to each of these causes in the month before being questioned in 2018. Following very closely behind is medical research, and in fourth place, hospitals and hospices. The least popular causes are arts, and sports and recreation, both scoring just 2%.

The causes that donors give the biggest donations to however, are somewhat different. Religious causes saw by far the largest donations in 2018, with an average gift size of £74 – up from 2017’s £59. Overseas aid and disaster relief and the arts both saw average donation sizes of £30, while in 2018, donations for schools, colleges, universities and other education remained the same as 2017 (£21) after falling from £46 in 2016.

A positive outlook

Encouraging people to give more, and more people to give then will undoubtedly continue to be a key issue for charities into the future. But, while the reports highlight numerous challenges, as well as work to be done, there are clear indications in both that charities are already proactively working to address them, putting supporters at the heart of their organisations, and focusing too on innovation and collaboration – positive news indeed.

Julie PentecostNew research shows positive outlook from charities despite challenges
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