Charity Street Scotland



Insight into the way Scottish households and individuals use charitable services.

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About Charity Street Scotland

For the first time we have been able to chart the use of charities by millions of Scottish people. What our research shows is that nine in ten people across the country have used a charity whether for advice, support, help in times of need, or just somewhere to visit for a day out.

Our second Scotland Giving report earlier this year showed once again the extraordinary generosity of Scots, who gave an estimated £1.2billion to good causes in 2017. This research shows how much that generosity matters to people’s everyday lives.

Key findings from Charity Street Scotland

  • The use of charity is widespread with nine in ten Scottish households having used a charity at some point, and four in five having used a charity service in the last 12 months.

  • Better off households are more likely to have used a charity service overall, those of social classes ABC1 are also more likely to have used a number of specific services.

  • Younger people aged 18-24 use on average more charitable services in the last 12 months (5.3), with the number decreasing the older you are, reaching 2.2 on average amongst those aged 65+.

  • Households which use charities perceive a wide range of benefits to doing so, most commonly this is having an enjoyable / fun experience (19%), receiving emotional support or counselling from a charity service (16%) or legal advice or support (16%).

  • People are often not aware they are using a charity with 27% unaware that the service they or someone in their household had used was provided by a charity. Younger people aged 18-34 were the most likely to be unaware, at 34%.

  • Charities are best placed and most trusted to speak on behalf of the disadvantaged with 68% believing that charities were best placed to speak on behalf of disadvantaged people to government to help influence government policies.


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

Charities have a trusted status in regards to representing disadvantaged people. It is important that the Scottish Government continues to utilise the expertise and on-the ground experience of charities and work collaboratively with them.

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. 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.

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 Scottish Government’s strategy for reducing loneliness and isolation should consider the social value that charities provide.

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Insight into the way Scottish households and individuals use charitable services.

Download the report

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CAF Scotland Giving 2019

Our research reveals the key facts and trends of charitable giving in Scotland.

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