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Nearly 4 million fewer giving to charity during peak pre-Christmas period

Those who can afford to are being encouraged to give this Christmas as 3.8 million fewer people gave to charity during November, normally the peak month for donations.

According to the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF), new research shows just 36% of individuals donated or sponsored someone for charity last month, down from 43% in a typical November pre-pandemic. 

November is usually the month when most people say they give to charity thanks in part to national events such as Children in Need and the Poppy Appeal. Some charities rely on November fundraising to fund their work for the following year. However, festive giving has been lacklustre for the last few years due to the pandemic restricting opportunities for fundraising events.

Now the cost-of-living crisis is taking its toll too as people understandably reduce their spending. According to CAF’s latest UK Giving research which tracks household donor behaviour, over the last six months, around one in ten (10%) decided not to make a one-off donation to charity because of the cost-of-living squeeze, and 5% said they had recently reduced or cancelled a regular donation. One in five (19%) are considering cutting back on their donations to cover their household bills. 

This comes at a time when costs for charities are increasing, and they are facing soaring demand for their services from families struggling as the cold weather takes hold. Charities are providing food packages, debt advice, mental health services and support for the homeless. In separate research with hundreds of charities, CAF found a third (33%) have seen demand for their services increase significantly compared to last year.

The more positive news is that the cost-of-living crisis means nearly half (47%) of people say they are more aware of those in need in their local community. And, amongst people who donated in the last year, nearly one in five (19%) are more likely to donate to charity this Christmas as a direct result of the cost-of-living crisis, with two in five (42%) saying they are especially likely to donate to tackle homelessness or food poverty as part of their Christmas giving.

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

“People cutting back on their donations during the Christmas period is understandable but it’s a concern for the many charities that rely on festive fundraising, especially following two years of cancelled charitable events and appeals.

“Charities know more than most the pressures people are feeling as they try to provide for their families during this incredibly challenging time. But if you can afford it, now is the time to give to causes supporting the most vulnerable in our society. There are also other ways to help, such as through volunteering or donating goods.”

Give if you can: five top tips to help this Christmas

1. Ensure donations include Gift Aid 
Gift Aid allows registered charities to reclaim income tax on a donation made by a UK taxpayer, but only if the donation is declared. This effectively increases the value of the donation by approximately 25% for a basic-rate taxpayer. However, every year more than £500 million of Gift Aid goes unclaimed, according to the Charity Finance Group.

2. Donate for ‘core costs’
Charities will welcome ‘unrestricted funding’, not tied to a particular campaign, to cover their core costs, such as their energy bills and rent. 

3. Give from your pay
Through payroll giving schemes, such as CAF’s Give As Your Earn (GAYE), employees can give to any UK registered charity straight from their salary. Donations are tax-effective because they are taken before income tax is applied, which means the charities receive more of the employee’s donations and it costs the donor less. Some employers also offer to match contributions. 

4. Give from your pension
If you receive a company or personal pension and your provider runs a payroll giving scheme, you can donate to charity by authorising them to make the donation from your pension before deducting tax.

5. Give goods, time and skills
Gift Aid can also usually be added for donating goods such as clothes, furniture, books, and other household items. Volunteering your time or skills to a charity can also be a valuable way to contribute to a charitable cause. 

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