The UK’s top acts of generosity revealed on #givingtuesday

29 November 2016

One in three people in the UK has paid a compliment to a stranger in the past year, according to new research released to mark #givingtuesday – the global day of giving.

With people across the country being urged to ‘do good stuff’ to mark the UK’s third #givingtuesday today (TUES) the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) research shows the many ways people in the UK show generosity to strangers – and the gestures of generosity they most appreciate in return.

More than 1,500 UK charities and businesses will be encouraging employees, customers and supporters to take part today. People will be donating money, giving time or lending to their voice to a good cause – whether it is supporting a charity, or performing an act of kindness.

Events taking place to mark #givingtuesday today include a choir of MPs singing outside the Houses of Parliament to raise money for Syria, dozens of National Lottery winners building Gingerbread playhouses filled with sweets and presents for charities and eBay and QVC running special #givingtuesday sales. Several high street retailers are taking part including Morrisons which will be inviting every customer to add a charitable donation to their shop at the checkout.

#givingtuesday is led in the UK by CAF. To mark the occasion it has commissioned new YouGov research revealing the many ways in which people across the UK show generosity every day.

Acts of kindness people in the UK have done for a stranger in past 12 months

  1. Held the door open (76%)
  2. Stopped to give someone directions (50%)
  3. Let someone in front in a shopping queue (48%)
  4. Given a compliment (35%)
  5. Given up a seat on public transport (32%)
  6. Passed on a ‘pay and display’ parking ticket (21%)
  7. Helped someone carry a pram or pushchair (16%)
  8. Help carry someone’s shopping (14%)
  9. Given food (13%)
  10.  Stopped to talk to someone in distress (13%)
  11. Given a hug (12%)

While holding open the door is the most common way for people to help a passer-by, one in three of us has given a compliment (35%) and one in eight of us (12%) have gone as far as giving a stranger a hug.

When it comes to giving compliments, those living in the South West are most likely to brighten someone’s day with over half (52%) having complimented a stranger. However, it seems the stiff upper lip prevails in London where people are less than half as likely to say something nice to someone they don’t know (24%). Women (41%) are more likely to give compliments than men (29%)

Following the shopping frenzy of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, today’s research found that almost half of us (48%) has let someone in ahead of a shopping queue. Shoppers in the North West (60%) are the most likely to let someone go ahead of them.

Giving up a seat on public transport was the fifth most common act of kindness overall but the second most common among 16-24 year olds, with about three in five (59%) having done so in the last year. Londoners are no stranger to the longing for a seat on public transport but were also the most generous when it came to giving theirs to someone else (56%). 

Hannah Terrey, Head of Policy and Campaigns at CAF, said:

“Whether we are rallying behind charities or being nice to strangers, the UK has a proud tradition of being one of the most generous places in the world.


“Today, on #givingtuesday, up and down the country in offices and community buildings and out on the streets, people will be getting out to raise money, give their time, or do something nice for someone else. 


“It has been fantastic to see how much people have taken #givingtuesday to their hearts since CAF first brought it over here two years ago.


“For some people it’s a chance to do something unusual and new, for others it’s can be about using this day to shout about the brilliant stuff they do all year round, encouraging more people to get involved or saying thank you. With the many divisions in communities and challenges for charities, #givingtuesday is, at its very simplest, a great opportunity to focus on the good stuff that we can do together.”


Acts of kindness people in the UK would most like strangers to do for them

  1. Assist someone having car troubles (e.g. loaned jump leads, changed a spare tyre, telephoned for help) (40%)
  2. Hold the door open (39%)
  3. Given a compliment (36%)
  4. Help someone who has become ill/injured (35%)
  5. Let someone in front of you in a shopping queue (26%)
  6. Stop to give someone directions (26%)
  7. Stopped to talk to someone in distress (25%)
  8. Give up a seat on public transport (23%)
  9. Passed on a ‘pay and display’ parking ticket (23%)
  10. Help carry someone’s shopping (13%)


Notes to Editors:

#GivingTuesday is backed by more than 1,500 partners including Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, the Financial Times, London Zoo, Sue Ryder, Cancer Research UK, RSPCA and BT which will be holding launch event at the top of the BT Tower on the morning of #givingtuesday.

Last year the event was the top trend on Twitter throughout the day with more than 100,000 mentions using #givingtuesday. Celebrities and politicians including Stephen Fry, JK Rowling, Emma Watson, Miranda Hart, Gary Lineker, Lily Allen, David Baddiel, Peter Andre, David Tennant and Jeremy Corbyn backed the day. #givingtuesday 2015 broke a Guinness World Record for the most online donations in 24 hours as people gave away £35 million to good causes globally. Online donations raised £6,000 a minute for UK charities with more than 1,400 charities and businesses connecting with the movement which reached hundreds of thousands of people.

#givingtuesday now runs in over 70 countries around the world including the US, Canada, Germany, Spain, Singapore, Australia, Tanzania, Russia and Ireland. 

Last Tuesday Royal Mail stamped every letter posted on the day to with a #givingtuesday postmark to raise awareness of the day. The Financial Times has provided free advertising. A TV advert for #givingtuesday has run across Sky and BT channels in the run up to the day, for the first time this year. The advert was made by agency WPN Chameleon, who donated their time to make the spot for free. Media house M.i., Sky and BT Sport donated airtime.

The Charities Aid Foundation, which runs #givingtuesday in the UK, is offering a £100 welcome bonus, to donate to a good cause, for people opening up new charity accounts before 30 November.

To do good stuff for their 12,000 charities, not-for-profit fundraising platform Virgin Money Giving called on their friends across Virgin to give up advertising space on their websites. Seven Virgin companies from Money to Trains are asking their customers to do good stuff and give. The team at Virgin Money Giving have been working all year on #givingtuesday to provide UK charities free marketing resources and weekly training to help charities raise more on the day. Plus, Virgin Money Giving has teamed up with PayPal all week to celebrate #givingtuesday, and for every donation of £10 or more through Virgin Money Giving PayPal will give an extra £1 to your chosen charity.

More information about #givingtuesday at or connect via Twitter and Facebook.




Data is taken from the October 2016 UK Giving survey, which collected information about charitable giving from adults aged 16 and over in the United Kingdom. The survey was conducted online by YouGov between 18th to 25th October 2016. 1,004 interviews were conducted in total. The sample is nationally representative and is weighted to known population data on demographics including  age, sex, social class, and region.

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