Charity Street 3



Insight into the way households and individuals use charitable services.

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About Charity Street III

Charities are central to everyone’s lives. They provide myriad benefits to people of all walks of life: practical help and advice; medical support and care; ways to bring communities together; places to learn; places in which to relax and enjoy.

This report tracks the use of charitable services by households and individuals in 2018 compared to 2016's Charity Street II report and the original Charity Street report published in 2014, and provides detail on how the UK public perceive charity. It shows just how widespread the use of charity is, and how they are considered a key voice in tackling some of the biggest issues that society is facing.

Key findings from Charity Street III

  • The use of charity is widespread – the report finds that nine in ten UK households have used a charity at some point, and around three quarters (74%) have used a charity service in the last 12 months.

  • Although widespread, use of charities has declined in 2018 – 2016 saw a spike in charity usage. This year however, rates have returned to levels in line with, or lower than, 2014.

  • Whilst fewer households are using charities, those who are, are using more of them, more often. Households which used charities in the past 12 months used an average 3.8 services, compared to 3.0 services in both 2016 and 2014. They also use them more frequently.

  • Women and younger people are more likely to have personally used a charity. Women are more likely than men to have personally accessed a charity in the last 12 months (75% women vs 65% men), and in the last month (48% vs 41% of men). 18-24 year olds are more likely to have accessed a charity in the last 12 months (78%) and the last month (64%) than any other age group.

  • Households which use charities perceive a wide range of benefits to doing so – most commonly this is having an enjoyable / fun experience (17%) or receiving emotional support or counselling from a charity service (15%).

  • People are often not aware they are using a charity – almost 3 in 10 (29%) were unaware that the service they or someone in their household had used was provided by a charity.

  • Charities are best placed and most trusted to speak on behalf of the disadvantaged – 67% felt that charities were best placed to speak on behalf of disadvantaged people and 56% said they most trusted charities to do this.


Whilst the purpose of this report is to improve our understanding of how people are using the charity sector, there are a number of recommendations we think would improve the operating environment for the sector:

Utilise the expertise and experience of charities

This year’s report shows the continued trusted status of charities in regards to representing disadvantaged people. As the Government looks to focus on building a society that works for everyone, post Brexit and beyond, it is important that they continue to utilise the expertise and on the ground experience of charities.

The Government should work collaboratively with charities and address concerns about legislation that hampers charities’ ability to advocate for their cause.

More needs to be done to champion the role of charities

The lack of awareness amongst much of the public about their interaction with charities shows that more needs to be done to champion its role. We see an opportunity for local government to raise the profile of charitable organisations, particularly amongst the new directly elected Mayors to develop a clear vision for the role of philanthropy in their town, city or region.

Charities offering services to people should seek to promote and raise awareness of their status, and help to use the affinity that people feel towards the charities that they interact with on a regular basis as a way to help increase trust and support for charities more broadly.

Ensure charity support is accessible to those with the greatest need

Levels of deprivation have a clear impact on the types of charity service that households access, with those from the most deprived backgrounds significantly more likely to turn to charities that provide support or advice.

Government and funders should examine links between charitable provision and deprivation, to ensure that charity support is accessible to those with the greatest need. Charities should work to ensure that their services are open and known to people from a wide range of backgrounds.

Consider how the social role of charities can help to tackle loneliness in society

Fun and enjoyment topped the list of reasons for stated benefits of using a charity. This demonstrates the social role of charities to society, and should be seen as a key way of tackling loneliness, not only in the services charities provide but in the social interaction it provides.

CAF’s Post-Careers Advice Service (PCAS) report highlighted the opportunity of volunteering with charities in later life as a potential route to encourage more involvement with charities. The Government’s strategy for tackling loneliness should consider the social value that charities provide.

Work to be done in reaching men across the UK

Reaching men: There is work to be done in reaching men across the UK – in each of the survey areas, the engagement and usage rates are lower for men than with women. Charities should review their service provision and communications channels to ensure they are reaching and relevant for both men and women.

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Insight into the way households and individuals use charitable services.

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