How giving is affected by the cost of living crisis

09 August 2022
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In this blog, Policy and Communications Officer Kristy Lambert explores the relationship between increased living costs and charitable giving.

Jar on its side with coins spilling out of it on the desk

As inflation soars and the cost of living sees its sharpest spike in decades, charities need to understand how donors are responding so they can adapt their fundraising and make giving more accessible.  

So, what does this mean for fundraisers and what does the future of fundraising look like? Read on for further insights, and don’t forget to keep up to date with the latest sector news by checking our Research Round-Up

Financial pressure on donors is starting to impact giving 

According to the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) UK Giving Report, nearly 60% of respondents said that the crisis will negatively impact their ability to donate. In April, one in 25 (4%) reported that they had already cancelled a regular donation to charity, as a direct response to the rising cost of living. Similarly, 1 in 12 people (8%) said they had chosen not to make a one-off donation, and slightly fewer (6%) said they had reviewed how much they give to charity.  

This is mirrored by Wood for Trees’ State of the Sector Report, which showed that whilst overall recruitment is up from last year by 10%, it is beginning to fall - coupled with increased attrition risks leading to a drop in income. Donors’ average lifetime value in the first six months has also fallen since last year from £55 to £50 and cross-selling is down, suggesting people are becoming more selective in the way they support charities.   

Enthuse’s Donor Pulse Summer Report 2022 also highlighted a gradual decline in the number of regular givers, which went from 30% in the Spring to 27% in the Summer. Similarly, 55% of respondents said it was now harder (32%) or much harder (23%) to give to charity due to their financial situation.   

Going forward, it is unclear if those who have been impacted will stop donating altogether. Of the respondents to Enthuse’s report who feel worse off, only 17% said they would stop donating. Instead, they would be more selective (28%), make fewer donations (24%) or make smaller donations (20%). 

Digital technologies and high value donors present opportunities to grow giving 

Despite the difficult economic climate, online giving has remained popular. Enthuse’s report found that 45% of respondants donated online and 41% stated it was their preferred method of donating. Interestingly, for the first time since winter 2021, the percentage of respondents donating directly to the website of their chosen charity has overtaken the percentage donating through consumer platforms. This shift could be seen as a good thing, as those who donated directly to the charity were more likely to remember the organisation’s brand.  

Giving amongst high-net-worth individuals also follows a different pattern to donations from the wider public. The Beacon Collaborative’s research ‘high-net-worth giving continues upward trend to June 2022’, shows that wealthy donors dramatically increased their rates of larger donations between March and June of this year. The mean amount went from £5,026 in June of 2021 to £19,410 as of June 2022. This, coupled with the consistent upward trend from the wealthiest donors since 2020, indicates that philanthropy could play a pivotal role in supporting charities through this time.  

Overall, the next few months will present fundraisers with a number of challenges as they try to navigate the situation sensitively. As the situation unfolds, we will continue to work with our members to make sure fundraisers get the support they need. If you would like to be involved please contact  

Kristy Lambert
Kristy Lambert
Policy and Communications Officer, Chartered Institute of Fundraising
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