George Young

Senior Media Relations Officer

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11 June 2019

Download the 2019 Scotland Giving report here.

Scottish people are more generous than the UK as a whole when it comes to being charitable, but the percentage of people giving to charity is on the slide, according to the largest study of giving behaviour in the country. 

In total, 76% of Scots reported that they had taken part in a charitable or social activity in the past four weeks, 12 percentage points higher than the UK average of 64%. Yet the overall amount donated by Scottish people to charity in 2018 fell to £851 million, down from a peak of £1.2 billion in 2017. The percentage of Scottish people donating money, sponsoring someone and volunteering also dropped between 2016 and 2018, but was still higher than the UK average. 

That’s according to the Charities Aid Foundation’s annual Scotland Giving report. Findings are based on monthly polling and the report covers data collected over 2016, 2017 and 2018.

Scotland Giving body image

“Having three years’ worth of polling data is significant,” said Susan Pinkney, Head of Research at the Charities Aid Foundation. “It enables us to paint a more robust picture of how Scottish people give, and there are some potentially worrying trends.”

When asked if they had donated money to charity in the previous four weeks, 32% of Scots reported that they had done so during 2018, down from 33% in 2017 and 37% in 2016. When it came to sponsoring someone for charity in the previous month, the number dropped to 9% in 2018, four percentage points lower than the 13% seen in 2016. As for volunteering in the last four weeks, 8% of Scottish people reported doing so in 2018, compared to 11% in 2016.

The findings echo trends seen throughout the United Kingdom.

“The number of people in the UK regularly giving to charity has been in decline for three years, so Scotland isn’t unique in this regard,” continues Pinkney.

“We’ll also be closely monitoring the percentage of people in Scotland who say that they trust charities, as there’s been a general decline across the UK as a whole.”

In Scotland, the figure of those saying they ‘strongly’ or ‘tend to’ trust charities in 2018 was very similar to 2017 at 49% (compared to 50% in 2017 and 52% in 2016).

According to Pinkney, there are some declines to address in the overall picture of giving in Scotland, but there is scope for charities across the country to use these figures as a catalyst for greater engagement with Scottish people. This can also act as an opportunity to reassure them that their favourite charities are worth their time, effort and hard-earned money.

“Charities form part of the bedrock of Scottish society, contributing to so many cultural, social, religious and educational activities. While we may find ourselves in uncertain political times, these ties in our communities are worth fighting to protect.”

Key findings in the Scotland Giving report include:

  • Those living in Scotland donated £851 million to charity in 2018. This is higher than the £813 million donated in 2016 but lower than the 2017 peak of £1.2 billion. The total UK figure for 2018 was £10.1 billion. In Scotland, this was largely driven by fewer people donating and a lower number of large donations.

  • Scots were considerably more likely than the UK as a whole to have participated in a charitable or social activity in the past four weeks (76% vs 64% – a gap of 12 percentage points).

  • There was a decrease in the percentage of people giving money to charity in the last 4 weeks between 2016 and 2018 (from 37% to 32%). Sponsoring someone for charity has also decreased from 13% to 9% over this period.

  • The frequency of giving has decreased, from 31% giving weekly or monthly in 2017 compared to 27% in 2018, a trend seen across the whole of the UK.

  • The trust in charities findings for Scotland differ from the UK as a whole and point to slightly higher levels of resilience. Those saying they ‘strongly’ or ‘tend to’ trust charities in 2018 was very similar to 2017 at 49% (compared to 50% in 2017 and 52% in 2016). In the UK as a whole, the figure is 48% which was significantly lower than 2017’s figure of 51%. ( To note: The recently released UK charity landscape survey of charity CEOs found that nearly six in 10 (59%) of charity leaders think that the sector has been badly impacted by recent negative media stories.)

  • Women are more likely than men to engage in charitable or social activities. This year we see 92% of women having done so in the last 12 months compared to 88% of men.

  • The top three causes that people donate to were the same between 2016 and 2018: children and young people, medical research and animal welfare.

  • The UK remains one of the most generous countries in the world, consistently ranked in the top 10 in the Charities Aid Foundation’s annual World Giving Index.

Notes to editors

CAF has been producing the UK Giving report since 2004, and has been tracking giving in the UK for several decades. In that time, there have been a number of changes to how the study is conducted in terms of approach and questions asked.

During 2016, the UK Giving survey transitioned from a quarterly face-to-face survey with 1,000 responses each quarter, to a monthly survey with 1,000 responses conducted online using the market research agency, YouGov. This enabled us to cut the data in order to be able to look at Scotland within its own right. In 2018 we boosted the sample in Scotland to ensure that we had a minimum of 100 interviews each month so that we could look at any monthly trends.

The new method of interviewing began in May 2016 and so the 2016 results contain data from eight months to December 2016. In 2017 we conducted interviews across the 12 months and reported on a total sample size for Scotland of 1,061 for 2017 and for 2018, we are reporting on a total sample size of 1,397.

CAF exists to make giving go further, so that more lives and communities around the world can be transformed.

CAF is a charity and a champion for better giving, and for over 90 years has helped donors, companies, charities and social organisations make a bigger impact. Through CAF Bank, it offers simple and straightforward day-to-day banking, designed exclusively for charities.

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