The latest stats release from the Charities Aid Foundation caught our collective eye, and got us thinking about what it means for our clients and other charities in an increasingly digital world...

When we make websites and apps for charities, we are always acutely aware of the attitudes and behaviours of the public who will be interacting with the charities online.

The latest annual report from the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) therefore caught our collective eye, as it produced another fascinating insight into the trends and directions of charitable giving in the UK.

The headline figures are that overall giving in the UK in 2015 has decreased by £500m to £9.6bn, compared to the previous year – this reflects a longer term trend which shows that, adjusted for inflation, this is lowest figure since CAF records began, and the annual figure was £13.2bn (a worrying decrease of 27% in just 11 years). However, if you dig deeper, there are more useful stats which can help charities to be more attractive to supporters in future, and retain a larger share of online support.

The frequency of online donations rose yet again: 16% of adults who have given to charity in the past year have now done so online. It is also worth noting that ‘online’ giving – in the context of CAF’s research – does not account for direct debits arranged online, nor charity lotteries, buying goods, paying via credit or debit cards or paying membership fees are completed via websites or apps. So the ‘real’ figure is likely to be significantly higher.

Although cash remains the most popular method of giving, it is worth noting the range of methods utilised for charitable giving. Playing charity lotteries/raffles remains a popular method of charitable giving, whilst buying charitable goods (for example, through Care2Save) was completed by over a fifth of respondents in the last year. Meanwhile, our own research of a representative sample of UK residents found that 80% had, at some point, donated goods to charity shops (something which prompted us to build the Gone for Good app).

Another interesting statistic to consider is that, whilst young people typically donate the least money (something which, in our Young People & Charity paper last year, we attribute to a lack of means rather than a lack of motivation), they use charities more than older age groups. However, the report also finds that young people are the most likely to volunteer – something which was worth £23.9bn to UK charities in 2012, and is reflected in trends globally.

With the sector continuing to evolve under a plethora of stresses and strains, charities must continue to monitor and pre-empt the changing values and behaviours of their supporters.

Whilst elements of CAF’s report are positive, it is clear that there are also issues to be addressed by charities in terms of their online presence: core audiences are changing, new technologies are becoming available, and behavioural norms are shifting. More must be done to capture the attention of – and ultimately engage – younger people, and increase online support as ‘traditional’ forms of donating (and asking for donations) are fast becoming outdated and increasingly criticised. It is only by making these changes that charities will be able to stay ahead of the curve and, ultimately, remain sustainable.

If you’d like to discuss what this might mean for your own charity, and how best to adapt for digital audiences, give us a call on: 0161 6607959.

Reason Digital News