Individual giving

Individual giving of charitable donations continues as a strong tradition in the UK. Giving statistics are remarkably stable over time, in both the demographics of who gives and in the pattern of preferred causes. This may be due to social norms and to the fundraising tactics of the larger charities. The recession impacted only briefly on individual donations, with giving levels quickly resuming their previous levels. Thus, despite early fears, individual giving may comprise one of the more stable sources of income, although this robustness may be felt more by larger charities with the reserves to survive any short-lived reductions. A further source of uncertainty lies is the effect of taxation levels on income from Gift Aid and other methods of tax-efficient giving.

Use of regular methods such as direct debits and membership fees continues to increase slowly and now makes up around a third of the total amount donated. Modern communications are having a significant impact on giving (see online revenue). Online and SMS donations are increasing, accompanied by increasing demands by donors for information and influence on charities activities.

What are the implications?

  • Donors require an increasing level of information about VCOs before deciding how much to give and who to.
  • Increase in regular methods allows VCOs to be more effective in their financial planning.
  • VCOs miss out on potential income unless they can encourage more planned giving and convert more one-off payments into regular donations.
  • Online enagagement with donors can attract additional donations but is complex and also involves some loss of control over the charity's public profile.

Moving forward

The wider giving environment

  • Is your income sufficiently robust to withstand another downturn in giving, for example if the economy worsens? Or will individual giving be able to fill gaps in lost grants?
  • Long-term demographic patterns have been remarkably stable: is there an opportunity to encourage giving by those who have traditionally been less engaged?
  • Are you and your donors taking full advantage of tax-efficient giving? Will a change in taxation lead to an unsustainable loss of income?

Planned individual giving can make up a significant proportion of a VCOs funding mix:

  • Do you explain to donors why it is valuable for giving to be planned? Is it easy for donors to set up regular payments? For instance, can they do this from your website?
  • Does planned individual giving fit into your fundraising strategy? Do you need an appointed fundraiser or volunteers to help drive up planned individual giving?

New technologies

  • Are you using the internet effectively to engage with your donors? Are you providing them with the information they need?
  •  Are there opportunities to fundraise via SMS or by online partnerships?

Want to know more?

UK Giving 2010

Published by: NCVO/CAF, partnership between two infrastructure charities

Date: September 2010

Format: PDF

What is it? This report provides an overview of charitable giving in the UK, mainly based on an annual survey. As an annual publication, it also helps identify trends.

How useful is this? The report showed a return to previous levels of giving following the reduction seen in the 2009 report. Since it is based on a repeated survey performed three times each year, it gives a useful overview of giving.

Managing in a downturn

Published by: Institute of Fundraising

Date: 2010

Format: PDF

What is it? This brief report explores the recent anxiety over fundraising in the recession and how this compared with reality. It raises useful points such as the potential lag between the recession and its effect on grant income.

How useful is this? The report is based on data from a survey of charities, including 116 Finance Directors and 65 Fundraisers. It was prepared by a partnership including the Institute of Fundraising, the Charity Fundraising Directors' Group and PricewaterhouseCooper LLP. This provides a useful counterpoint to the survey of individuals presented in the UK Giving series and also examines broader sources of income such as grants and legacies.

Passion, persistence and partnership: the secrets for earning more online

Published by: MissionFish and the Institute of Fundraising

Date: 2008

Format: PDF

What is it? This report gives a brief overview of online giving.

How useful is this?  The report provides a helpful starting point for considering the challenges of online engagement with potential donors. It cites online giving as a cost-effective means of fundraising but also points out that it continues to account for only 2% of the total amount donated. Five key trends are identified: the use of blogs to tell the charity's story; fundraising taking second place to engagement; loss of control associated with social networking; difficulties integrating the use of new media; and drawing on new partners such as eBay to diversify income.

Other Comments: A longer version is available but requires Institute of Fundraising membership.

Last updated at 15:09 Thu 03/Feb/11.


How will this affect your organisation? Have you considered it during your strategic planning? Can you share any interesting relevant links?

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