Is the Charity Sector in Trouble? We Don’t Think So

Back to Blog

When we saw the headline ‘UK facing permanent decline in public engagement with charities’ we were concerned and, well, a bit depressed. The article in ThirdSector went on to examine the Charities Aid Foundation’s long-running UK Giving Report. They said that they had found a significant drop in donation levels, volunteering and sponsorship – compared to pre-pandemic levels.

It’s all about perspective

But then we looked at their stats… and we didn’t think they looked too bad. And we certainly didn’t see a reason to believe this decline would be permanent. CAF found:

• Participation in charitable activities in 2022 was similar to 2021 (83% in 2021 to 84% in 2022), but still below the 88% in 2019

• Throughout 2022, only 7% of people reported volunteering for a charity in the past four weeks, down from 9% in 2019

• Volunteering in the last year was down from 17% in 2019 to 13% in 2022

So it’s not as healthy as it was pre-pandemic but surely that’s no surprise – the surprise is actually that it’s not as bad as it could be! The UK has had some really tough years – we don’t need to list all the issues we’ve faced, we’d be here all day.

This ‘it could be worse’ sentiment is something we led with in our own State of the Sector report, released recently. We launched it at The Chartered Institute of Fundraising’s Insight conference where we really felt that sentiment was echoed by our friends in the industry. Among other interesting things, we found:

• Non-legacy giving increased by 1%
• Regular giving was up by 3%
• High-value giving is increasing rapidly

See, not so bad.

No crystal ball

While we felt some relief, we’re not out of the woods just yet. We’re not yet even halfway through the year, and if the last few years have taught us anything it’s that anything can happen. I think we can speak for all our charity partners when we say no news would really be good news right now.

But whatever external factors come into play, it’s indisputable that charities need to get smarter in order to optimise their data. Whether that be for acquisition, retention or to nudge supporters towards other forms of giving. Knowing and understanding how your supporters behave allows you to increase donations and improve supporter journeys – so when times get tough you’re ready. And when times aren’t tough, you’re flying.

If you want to know more about our State of the Sector report, or InsightHub – which is the platform that gives us all that data – get in touch. We’re confident we can help you optimise your supporter relationships and we love to chat all things charity.