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Cost-of-living: charity donations can’t keep up with rising costs and demand

Charities are facing higher demand while costs are soaring and people cut back on donations. New monthly research from the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) shows how this is affecting charities such as food banks with the number of people saying they gave money to food banks falling 10 percentage points from December to February (24% to 14%). The average median donation reported has also halved, decreasing from £20 in December last year to £10 last month.

At the same time, an increasing number of people are relying on charitable services including food banks, due to the cost-of-living crisis. Currently nearly one in five (19%) people say they have friends and family facing food poverty, compared to around one in 10 (12%) in July 2022. A Manchester-based poverty charity told CAF that demand had increased by 37% and food supply had been ‘erratic’, while a food bank in east London said demand for their organisation had doubled. 

Costs for charities such as food, energy and rent are increasing, and unlike businesses, they cannot pass extra costs on to consumers. In their struggle to meet these higher costs, poverty relief charities have reported reducing their food offering from a week’s worth to three days, or from two bags of food a week to one. Overall, more than half (53%) of charities are worried about surviving, according to separate CAF research with more than 1,300 organisations across the UK.

Neil Heslop OBE, Chief Executive of the Charities Aid Foundation said:

“The situation facing food banks exemplifies the challenges that charities across the country are experiencing because of soaring costs. They have stepped up this winter, now the Chancellor should help them out.

“The Budget on Wednesday is an opportunity for the Chancellor to recognise the vital contribution made by charities through the cost-of-living crisis. Instead of reducing the help they are getting with energy costs as planned, he should announce targeted support to give them some breathing space and help them get through this period of great uncertainty.”

Notes to Editors

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,036 people in February 2023 (undertaken 17- 27 February 2023), 1,077 people in December 2022 (14 -23 December 2022) and 1,085 in July 2022 (21 -31 July 2022). The surveys were carried out online. The figures are weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 16+).



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