Charity donations soared by £800million in the first months of coronavirus pandemic, research suggests

  • The Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) found a rise in donations despite uncertainty
  • The public donated a total of £5.4billion between January and June this year
  •  CAF said some causes suffered huge losses as donors shifted to support NHS

Charity donations rose by £800million in the first months of the pandemic, analysis suggests.

Giving between January and June was at levels usually seen in the months leading up to Christmas, the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) said.

The public donated a total of £5.4billion – £800million more than for the same period in 2019. 

However, the CAF found that some causes suffered unprecedented losses as donors shifted to charities supporting the NHS. 

This coincided with Captain Sir Tom Moore raising £32million for NHS Charities Together by walking laps of his garden.

Charity donations rose by £800million in the first months of the pandemic, analysis suggests but the Charities Aid Foundation said some groups lost out as more people shifted to supporting NHS charities

However, medical research charities were among the hardest hit, losing out on an estimated £174million.

Animal charities and those supporting children and young people also saw donations fall.  

Overall, the proportion of people who donated money to charity has remained broadly in line with previous years, the CAF said.

And trust in charities has risen, with 56% of people in August agreeing that most charities are trustworthy, up from an average of 50% in 2019.

Neil Heslop, CAF chief executive, said its report ‘gives us all cause for hope at a time when, for many, it is in perilous short supply’.

He 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 inspiration 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.’

The CAF’s Covid-19 report is based on monthly interviews of around 9,000 people between January and August.

It found 34% of donations involved cash in March, falling to 13% in April and staying at low levels compared with previous years.

The number of online donations rose from 13% to 24% over the same period and remains higher than normal, the CAF said.

While the public reported feeling anxiety about their household finances early in the pandemic, they did not give less.

And by the end of April, 12% of people said they were intending to donate more in the next 12 months, compared with the long-term average of 7%.

The median monthly donation was £30 in May – up significantly from the longer-term median donation of £20.

One in 20 people said they had cancelled a regular donation due to concerns about their own financial situation, with young people most likely to do this.

Charities also experienced a fall in volunteers as many activities were cancelled or postponed, with local lockdowns continuing to hinder formal volunteering.

The number of people who said they had volunteered for a charity dropped to 4% in June, compared with the 2019 average of 9%.

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