21 September 2012
Britain is facing a long-term crisis of giving – with new
generations failing to match the generosity of people born in the
inter-war years, according to groundbreaking new research published
by the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF).
CAF, which promotes charitable giving and provides financial
services and social finance to not-for-profit organisations, is
calling for urgent action to reverse the alarming trends
highlighted in a new report by a leading academic.
The study by Professor Sarah Smith, of the University of
Bristol, which was commissioned by CAF, warns that charities face a
‘donation deficit’ in the years to come if action is not taken to
ensure that younger generations match the generosity of the
inter-war generation (often referred to as 'the Silent Generation'
born between 1925 and 1945) and those born in the immediate
post-war baby boom (born between 1945-1966)
Professor Smith, one of Britain’s leading experts on charitable
giving, found that the gap between the donations made by the
over-60s and under-30s has widened sharply during the last 30 years
– raising fears that donations will fall when the inter-war Silent
Generation and those born in the immediate post-war years pass away
and members of Generation X (1965-1981) and Generation Y
(1982-1999) reach retirement.
More than half of all donations now come from the over-60s,
compared to just over one third of donations 30 years ago. And the
over-60s are now more than twice as likely to give to charity as
the under 30s.
In 1980, 29 per cent of the over-60s had given to charity, while
the figure for those under 30 was 23 per cent. Thirty years later,
32 per cent of people over 60 said they gave to charities in the
past fortnight, compared with just 16 per cent of the
Today CAF is calling for urgent action to tackle the long term
‘donation deficit’ facing charities. The measures comprise:
- Ensuring young people grow up giving – by making giving a
central part of the National Curriculum and encouraging young
people to take work experience and volunteer for charities.
- Encouraging young people to get involved in charities – by
- Bringing Gift Aid into the digital age – by creating a national
online Gift Aid registration scheme.
- Creating a strong culture of workplace giving – by reforming
payroll giving and putting philanthropy at the heart of
- Introducing US-style ‘living legacies’ – which would help
people to give their wealth to charity during their lifetimes
rather than waiting to leave it to good causes in their will.
John Low, Chief Executive of the Charities Aid Foundation,
said: “The generosity of Britain’s older generation continues
to be remarkable – and many charities today depend heavily on their
“The worrying fact is that people from Generation X and
Generation Y are simply not giving to the same extent.
“We fear that charities will face a damaging donation deficit
when people of the older generations pass away. That would severely
hit the funding of charities, and their ability to deliver vital
services on which so many people rely. This must be addressed now
if charities are to survive and thrive.
“We need clear steps to be taken in order to build up the
culture of giving among younger people, to ensure that Britain
continues to support the causes we all care about in the decades to