Brexit impact on charities and causes revealed

11 April 2017

Brexit has had no effect on donations to charity in post-referendum Britain, but more people are getting involved in protests and campaigns, according to the UK’s leading study on charitable giving.

The Charities Aid Foundation’s annual UK Giving report found that giving to charity has held steady despite huge political developments last year, with donations totalling £9.7 billion. And month-by-month surveys since the EU referendum showed no shift in people’s reported giving.

But there has been a ‘Brexit-effect’ on other type of support for charities and causes, with volunteering and campaigning both up since the referendum.

More than half of UK adults (56%) say they signed a petition in the past year. The number saying they had taken part in a public demonstration or protest was also comparatively high of at 6% - equivalent to 3 million UK adults.

People who voted in the EU referendum - whether they opted to remain (93%) or leave (87%) – are more likely to have done something charitable in 2016 than those who didn’t vote at all (82%).

CAF’s UK Giving report is the leading study of charitable behaviour in the UK, published annually by CAF since 2004. This year’s report has been produced with YouGov. Its sample size has been significantly increased to allow for a greater insight into how people support charities, who gives and what they give to.

The in-depth study found that:

• People are becoming more charitable. Almost 9 in 10 people (89%) did something charitable last year, a significant increase on 2015 when 79% said the same. Well over half of the population donated money (61%) or gave goods to charity (56%) and one in six (17%) volunteered.

• Medical research is the most popular cause. Just over one in four people (26%) gave to a medical research charity last year, closely followed by animal welfare (25%) and children and young people (24%).

• £18 is the median average contribution for a charitable donation or sponsorship. Cash is still the most common way for people to give, accounting for 58% of people having donated in this way. Just over one in four (26%) gave online.

• Women are more charitable than men. 14% of men said they had not participated in any charitable activity in the past year, compared with just 8% of women.

• Younger people are less likely to donate money than older people (54% of 16-24s donated in the last year, vs. 68% of 65+) but they are more likely to volunteer, sign a petition or take part in a public demonstration or protest.

• Charitable giving peaked in November. More than two-in-five people (41%) said they had given in the month of high profile campaigns like Children in Need, the Poppy appeal and Movember.

CAF Chief Executive John Low said:

“While huge change was taking place all around us last year, one thing which remained consistent was the reliable and enduring generosity of people in the UK in their support of good causes.

“The consequences and impact of the EU referendum result are likely to become increasingly apparent over the months and years ahead.

“Our research shows that there has been no ‘Brexit-effect on charitable donations so far, but there has been a noticeable increase in people engaging in social and political issues. Numbers of people who said they signed a petition or took part in a protest or demonstration last year are the highest recorded in more than a decade of us producing this report.

“We know that people increasingly feel they want to make a difference and many see charities as a way to achieve that. Charities already play an integral role in the lives of so many. At this critical time in our nation's history, their importance is only likely to increase.”

Notes to editors

1 The Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) is one of Europe’s largest charitable foundations, which helps more than 250,000 people and 3,000 businesses give to good causes, while offering financial services to support charities

2 CAF has been producing the UK Giving report since 2004, and has been tracking giving in the UK for several decades. This year’s UK Giving survey has doubled the number of interviewees from 4,000 in last year’s report to 8,000 this year. Interviews are carried out online by YouGov.

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