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School children give £20m a year to charity as Blunkett launches major inquiry into giving

13 March 2013

Junior school children give nearly £20 million a year to charity, according to new research which charts the extent of young people’s generosity in the run up to Red Nose Day on Friday.

Children aged between 9 and 11 give an average of £1.99 a month to charity - representing donations of £19.64 million a year, according to a survey released as the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) launches a major new inquiry into giving, chaired by former Cabinet Minister David Blunkett.

The cross-party investigation will examine how to harness young people’s natural enthusiasm to help others, create a culture of giving in Britain and reverse the long-term decline in giving between generations.

A ComRes poll commissioned by CAF, which promotes charitable giving and provides financial services and social finance to not-for-profit organisations, found children aged between 9 and 11 prefer to back charities helping children and animals. But by the time young people reach 16-18, the overwhelming favourite is medical causes, echoing trends among adults, the poll found.

  • 9-11 year olds would like to support children’s charities (34%) followed by animal charities (21%) medical charities (12%) disabled or homeless charities (5% each) charities that help people in other countries and hospitals (each at 4%)
  • 16-18 year olds want to support medical charities (32%) children’s charities (17%) animal charities (8%) health charities and charities that help people in other countries (both 6%) and homeless and disabled charities (each at 5%)

The poll shows that young people have a strong desire to support charities and help others, despite living through the worst economic downturn since the 1930s.

The inquiry will be co-chaired by Conservative MP Andrew Percy and Liberal Democrat Peer Baroness Tyler and will take evidence from key figures from education, charity and business.

Evidence suggests that giving has been declining among younger generations of adults over the decades, with people in their 30s and 40s less likely to give than their parents' and grandparents' generations.  A study published last year found that the proportion of all money given to charity by people in their 30s has more than halved in the last 40 years.

Today’s survey of 9-11 year olds and 16-18 year olds found:

  • 9-11 year olds gave an average of £1.99 a month to charity, while 16-18 year olds gave an average of £5.73 a month.
  • More than half of young people (53%) believe it is more important to help others than help themselves
  • More than two thirds (68%) believe that young people should give up some time to help others
  • Nearly two thirds (63%) believe that the more money people have, the more they should give to charity
  • Nearly two thirds (63%) believe that all businesses should give money to charity
  • 61% of young people say that schools arranging charity work would be most likely to encourage them to help charities, followed by charity themed days at school (53%) and charities coming to school (49%) – ranked ahead of celebrity endorsement (30%) and friends and family talking about charities (18%).

John Low, Chief Executive of the Charities Aid Foundation, said: “This survey shows that children have a natural desire to help others. It's fantastic that they are so keen to support the causes we all care about.

“It's vital that the young people at school and college today maintain their enthusiasm for giving and carry on supporting charities when they move into the world of work.

“The problem we face is that people under 30 are contributing a declining share of charitable donations in Britain. We want to find ways of building on the spirit of giving among our children, so we can ensure this country remains one of the world's most generous countries in years to come.

“I hope this inquiry will help charities build closer links with people of all ages. David Blunkett, Andrew Percy and Baroness Tyler, who will be leading this work, deserve our thanks for their commitment.”

David Blunkett said: “Learning how to support causes that are important to society is a crucial part of growing up for everyone.

"Every young person can make a difference and support the causes they care about. Young people are crying out for advice and a framework by which they can be aided to help others, either in fundraising or in giving of their time.

“At a moment when we are approaching Red Nose Day and the generosity that is displayed in funding for Comic Relief, sustaining those good intentions is vital. Not least, as we know there’s been a 20% drop in giving.”

“Linked to the Government’s substantial investment in National Citizen’s Service for 16 year olds, we will want to examine how we can identify the ingredients that would encourage a continuing generosity at a time of austerity, as well as active citizenship, which will sustain society by bringing people together to meet need.”

ComRes interviewed 1,000 young people online between 9th and 14th February 2013. The sample consisted of 500 young people aged 9-11 and 500 young people aged 16-18. Data were weighted to be representative of these aged groups by age, gender and region.

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