An overview of public perceptions

SMALL CHARITIES

Our research on public perceptions of small charities and the work they do.

Download summary PDF

Background

To support Small Charity Week (18-23 June), we conducted research on public perceptions of small charities and the work they do. A nationally representative sample of people were asked a series of questions in order to measure levels of public awareness and their perceived impact.

Key findings

  • Whilst awareness of individual small charities is low – 64% of people said they weren’t sure or couldn’t name any small charities – more than one in ten people in the UK (12%) say a friend or family member has used the services of a small charity.

  • Nearly two thirds of people (63%) think small charities have had a positive impact on their local community and a quarter (24%) say that this impact has been ‘very positive’.

  • Most (63%) report having done something for a small charity in the past (donating money, giving goods, sponsoring someone, volunteering or helping to fundraise) and a willingness to help out in the future is high, especially through giving goods (64%), donating money (58%) and sponsoring someone (49%).

  • Whilst young people are less likely to say that have donated money to a small charity in the past, they are particularly open to the possibility of volunteering for one in the future – 37% of 16-34 year olds saying they are likely to do so.

Our findings in detail

Awareness of small charities

Just over a third of people (36%) say that they could name at least one small charity and the most common way of hearing about it was through friends and family – including those whose friends and family had used a small charity’s services (12% of people). Fundraising events and social media are other common sources of awareness.

People associate small charities with being local (41%), having a small staff (13%), working within a niche cause (11%), and having a low turnover (10%). 7% define a small charity as either being staffed entirely by volunteers or where 100% of money raised goes to the cause.

Women are more likely than men to associate small charities with being local (44% of women vs. 38% of men), as are those living in rural areas (51% vs. 39% of those living in urban areas). Men are more likely than women to associate them with having a low turnover (12% of men vs. 8% of women).
Awareness

Perceptions of small charities' impact

62% of people think that small charities have a positive impact on their local community and a quarter think that this impact is ‘very positive’ (24%). This is particularly true for women (27% vs. 22% of men).

The older generations are more likely than the youngest to feel broadly positive about the impact of small charities on their community – 68% of the over 55s said either that the impact was very or fairly positive, compared to 52% of 16-24 year olds who said the same.

However, millennials aged 25–34 are nearly twice as likely as the baby boomer generation (aged 55 and over) to say that small charities have a very positive impact internationally (11% vs. 6%).
Impact

Past giving to small charities

Nearly two thirds (63%) of people can recall having done something for a small charity – donating money, giving goods, sponsoring someone, volunteering or helping to fundraise.

Women are more likely than men to have been involved in multiple different ways, being particularly more likely than men to have given goods to a small charity (42% of women vs. 30% of men), sponsored someone (28% vs. 22% of men) or helped to fundraise (20% vs. 15% of men).

As indicated in other research, giving tends to become more common with age. Our small charities research shows that those aged over 55 are the most likely age group to have contributed to a small charity in multiple ways, and they are significantly more likely than younger people to have given money to a small charity through a donation or sponsorship (59%).
Past behaviours

Consideration of future giving to small charities

Giving goods is the most common way people think they are likely to help a small charity with around two thirds (64%) saying that they are very or fairly likely to do this in the future. The next most common ways people envisage helping small charities in the future are by donating money (58%) and sponsoring someone (49%).

Younger people in particular are open to the idea of volunteering for a small charity with 37% of 16-34 year olds saying they are likely to do so in the future.
Future behaviour

How this research was conducted

On behalf of CAF, YouGov polled 1,086 adults aged 16+ between 18 and 29 May 2018. The survey was conducted online and the sample is representative of known demographics including sex, age, region and social grade.

CAF research

KEEP UP TO DATE

Our research programme is focussed on investigating and increasing understanding of charitable giving and philanthropy.

Subscribe to our research updates

Related content

Supporting small charity chief executives


In this blog, Beth Clarke examines the role of a small charity leader and calls for more support to be given to them.

Charities


Whatever your size, we provide solutions for funding and financing your charity's needs.

CAF UK Giving hub


We've been looking into donor behaviour and issues affecting charities in the UK since 2004.


Charities Aid Foundation © 2018 | Registered Charity Number 268369
25 Kings Hill Avenue, Kings Hill, West Malling, Kent ME19 4TA Telephone: 03000 123 000
10 St. Bride Street, London EC4A 4AD Telephone: 03000 123 000