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CAF is one of Europe’s largest charitable foundations. We produce research on charities and charitable giving, develop policy ideas and work with people, companies and charities to help good causes thrive.

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Ice Bucket Challenge boosts overall UK giving – research

12 September 2014

One in six Britons (17%) say they have taken part in the Ice Bucket Challenge – making it one of the most successful campaigns of its kind, according to research conducted by ComRes on behalf of the Charities Aid Foundation and released today.

One in ten of the population say they donated to charity as result of the Ice Bucket Challenge campaign. An average of nearly £5 was reported to be donated as a result of the challenge, and the majority of these donations are reported to be additional to the amount people were planning to give this year anyway – meaning charities are potentially getting an extra boost.

The Ice Bucket Challenge, the global trend which took off in the US  to raise money and awareness for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Motor Neurone Disease, is reported to have raised over $100m to date, with the MND Association, Macmillan Cancer Support and Water Aid charities amongst others benefiting in the UK.

Over half of Britons (55%) think charities involved in social media campaigns encourage people to give more to good causes overall, shows the research commissioned by the Charities Aid Foundation, which helps people and businesses support the causes they care about, and provides financial services designed for the charitable sector.

Nearly two thirds (61%) of people reporting to donate to charity as result of the Ice Bucket Challenge say their donations are additional to the amount they usually give to charity annually. Just 14% say it will replace a donation they were planning to make to another charity this year, whilst 8% say they will decrease the amount they were planning to give to charity this year as a result of the challenge.
The research also showed the Ice Bucket Challenge has been the most successful of its kind: 17% of people report taking part, whilst 7% were involved in the Stephen Sutton Thumbs Up campaign and 6% took a #nomakeupselfie in Britain earlier in the year.
That means around eight million Britons aged 18 and over say they have taken on the challenge, and around 12m say they have been involved in a social media fundraising campaign at some point. In total, a quarter (25%) of Britons say that they have taken part in at least one charity fundraising campaign driven by social media.
The poll also found:

  • Younger people (aged 18 – 44) are more likely to say they have taken part in at least one social media fundraiser – 37% of this age group compared to 7% of those over 65
  • People in Scotland are the most likely to say they have participated in a social media charity fundraising campaign, as a third of them say they have taken part, compared to the national average of 25%
  • Half (52%) of Britons think people taking part in social media charity fundraising campaigns are seeking attention
  • In general, men are more negative about social media charity campaigns – they are more likely than women to think people taking part are seeking attention and less likely to think taking part is fun
  • However, 38% of Britons say they wouldn't support a charity fundraising campaign on social media in the future - even 13% of those who say they have participated in  such a campaign previously state this, compared to 47% amongst those who haven't participated before
  • 50% of Britons would rather give money to charity campaigns seen on traditional media – such as events, posters or TV adverts – than on social media. Even two-fifths (41%) of those who say they took part in social media charity fundraising campaigns agree with this sentiment

Deborah Fairclough, Head of Research at the Charities Aid Foundation, said: “Social media is a fantastic way to help organisations big and small reach new supporters and spread awareness about their cause – and this year in particular we’ve seen an explosion of really creative campaigns.

“It’s amazing to see people giving that little bit extra in order to get involved in movements like the Ice Bucket Challenge, whilst still maintaining their support for their favourite charities.
“What we need to do now is help turn these one-off trends into a lifetime of support, getting more people involved in social action regularly – something we hope to achieve by bringing the international giving day #GivingTuesday – to the UK in December this year.”

The poll was carried out for the Charities Aid Foundation by ComRes. ComRes interviewed 2,058 GB adults online between 5th and 7th of September 2014. Data were weighted to be demographically representative of all British adults aged 18+. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.  Full data tables are available on the ComRes website.

About #GivingTuesday

#GivingTuesday is a global movement celebrating the amazing acts of generosity people perform throughout the year. It culminates in an annual global day of giving, this year on December 2, 2014, which will be the first time it is celebrated in the UK.

The campaign in the UK is being led by the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF), working closely with Blackbaud and there are already 200 partners committed to taking part, including Facebook, Argos, Homebase, Glamour, Thomson Reuters, PWC, Cancer Research UK, RSPCA, Breast Cancer Care, Marie Curie Cancer Care, RNIB, the NSPCC, The Cabinet Office, the National Union for Students and Just Giving.

#GivingTuesday was originally created in the United States in 2012 by 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation.  Last year #GivingTuesday spread to other countries, including Canada, Australia, Israel, Mexico and Latin America. Brazil and New Zealand will also join the movement with the UK this year.   

The movement is built on the collective power of partners – charities, businesses and individuals – to transform how people think about, talk about and participate in giving. #GivingTuesday encourages people to take action in their local communities and give back to the charities and causes they care about. #GivingTuesday also uses social media to create a global conversation about giving around the world.

Last year #GivingTuesday brought together 10,000 partners globally – from tiny community groups to huge multi-national corporations like Google and Microsoft.  #GivingTuesday also gained the support of over a hundred well-known individuals including Bill Gates, Kevin Bacon and Ringo Starr.

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