Charities must embrace new technology to encourage giving

19 July 2016

Young people’s appetite to do more for good causes is being stymied by the failure of charities to fully embrace new technology, research shows.

YouGov and the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) today publish new research into how technology like online donations, apps and contactless payments could be used by charities to inspire more people to give.

It warns that charities are seen as being behind the curve. And unless they significantly overhaul their approach they risk being “left behind” and missing out on the support of a generation.

New charity apps, better online donation options, and more consistent use of social media should be priorities for charities looking to motivate the next generation of givers.

Young adults in the UK are significantly less likely to donate money to charity than older people.

The paper ‘appetite for Donation’ reveals a huge desire among younger people to do more to support good causes. But this potential often goes unfulfilled because charities are failing to keep pace with the types of technology that have become central to the lives of many young people.

It suggests that if charities are to successfully inspire the next generation to donate money, they must become more technologically savvy. 

The research found:

  • Appetite for apps. Fewer than one in ten people (8%) have donated to charity using an app. By contrast, more than half of 18-to-34-year-olds use an app for their banking (53%). There is a clear appetite to donate using apps with one in three (32%) young adults saying they would do so in the next year if the technology was available. People would like a charity app to show how their donation is being spent (39%), see how a charity spends money more generally (33%) and to be able to search for charities dealing with particular issues (31%).
  • People are carrying less cash. Two in three adults (66%) now have contactless cards and many of those who use them (34%) carry less cash as a result. This poses a challenge for charities, with cash still being the most popular way for people to make ad hoc donations to good causes. One in three young adults (35%) said they would use contactless payments to give to charity if the option was available.
  • Translating ‘likes’ into donations. Over half of people who interact with charities on social media do not go on to donate to them. The likes of Facebook and Twitter have given charities huge opportunities to reach more people with one in three people saying they have followed or supported a charity on social media in the past 12 months. While there have been some notable successful social media based fundraising campaigns, there is clearly potential for charities to do more to turn clicks into donations.
  • Online giving. Online giving still only accounts for less than £1 in every £7 donated to charities in the UK, previous CAF research has shown. One in three young adults aged 18 to 34 (34%) have made an online ad hoc donation to a charity, compared to one-in-six people over 65 (17%). When it comes to future intent, more than six in ten (62%) younger adults believed they would donate online in the next year compared to one in three over 65s.
  • People prefer retailers which help them give to charity. Around half (48%) of adults are aware of the small change initiative, growing slightly among 18-34s (55%). This is the online equivalent of a collection tin by the till, where shoppers are given the option of ‘rounding up’ the cost of purchases with the difference going to charity. Almost one in three (29%) under 35s have donated in this way. And half of young adults (50%) say they would have a more positive impression of a retailer if it allowed them to donate in this way.

CAF is an international charity which helps more than 300,000 people in the UK give to good causes.

CAF’s Head of Research Susan Pinkney said:

“One of the big challenges facing charities is how to encourage younger people to emulate the generosity of their parents and grandparents’ generation. A 65-year-old is now almost twice as likely to donate to charity as someone in their early 20s.

“Young people in the UK tend to be very socially conscious and have a real appetite for supporting good causes. But this potential is not being fulfilled. To close this generational gap in giving, charities need to make it easier for young people to give.

“Today’s young adults have grown up accustomed to being able to run their social life, pay their bills, do their shopping and book their holidays from a mobile phone. But charities have been slow off the mark. There is a real shortage of opportunities for people to use everyday technology to support good causes.

“If they are to avoid being left behind, charities need to fully embrace new technology to ensure that they are speaking to younger people on their own terms and inspiring them to embark on a lifetime of charitable giving.”

Notes to Editors

YouGov and the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) carried out research online among a nationally representative sample of 2,000 British adults to explore how technology can be used to engage people in general and young people in particular, in terms of charitable giving.

The full report can be found here

Contact: Simon Ward, Charities Aid Foundation, 0300 012 3286

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