Giving

Average (median) amount donated per donor in 2017:

  

 

Introduction

You can find the data used in these charts on NICVA's Data Portal, where you can also find the data for past Individual Giving Surveys.

Each year NICVA gathers information on charitable giving from members of the public in Northern Ireland through the Individual Giving Survey.  Each Individual Giving Survey includes a standard set of questions, alongside questions that cover topical issues.  This section will cover key findings from NICVA's recent Individual Giving Surveys. 

The Survey is commissioned by NICVA and involves approximately1,026 interviews with a representative sample of the general public (aged 16+ years) in terms of gender, age, social class and region. You can find out more about the methodology behind the Giving section here 

Some definitions that readers of this section might find useful are detailed below.
Mean- a method for calculating an average where all the numbers are added together and divided by the number of numbers. 
Median-  a method for calculating an average where the "median" is the "middle" value in the list of numbers. To find the median, the numbers have to be listed in numerical order from smallest to largest. If there are two middle values, the median is halfway between them.
 

 1.0  Giving in Northern Ireland

57% of respondents in 2017 had donated money to charity over a four week period. This marks an decrease of 11 percentage points from 2016 however is the same perecentage of people that donated 2015.

  • The 2017 Individual Giving Survey marked an decrease in giving, with 57% of respondents reporting that they donated money to charity over a four week period.  This equates to an estimated 840,258 people aged 16+ years in Northern Ireland. This marks an decrease from 2016 when 68% stated that they donated money to charity, and is similar to 2015 levels (57%). At UK wide level 33% of people were reported to give money to charity in a typical month (Charities Aid Foundation- CAF, 2017). 
  • The 2017 Individual Giving Survey found that over three quarters of respondents donated money to charity (78%) over the last 12 months. This marks an decrease of 11 percentage points from 2015, and this figure is considerably higher than UK wide levels which stand at 61% (CAF, 2017).
  • These findings suggest that people in Northern Ireland are oneof the most likely regions to donate money to charity than other parts of the UK, and this is supported by CAF's geographical analysis of giving (CAF, 2017). This analysis found geographically, those in Wales (92%), Ulster (91%), the South West (90%) and the East Midlands (90%) are the most likely to have done charitable or social actions.

Why are giving levels so high in Northern Ireland? A number of reasons have been put forward to explain why Northern Ireland is so charitable. Researchers from the CASS Business School at the University of London suggested high levels of giving in Northern Ireland are linked to high levels of church attendance which is considered to provide an impetus and framework for giving.  Other studies have also reported a link between religion and giving (The Telegraph, 2014), for example one such study found that those who claimed a religious affiliation were more likely to give to charity than those who did not identify with a religious affiliation (65%/ 56%) (Friedman et al., 2014). Others have attributed Northern Ireland's charitable propensity to the strong sense of place and community held by its inhabitants (City Philanthropy, 2015).

 
 

 2.0  Patterns of giving

Levels of giving by males and females was close to equal over a four week period.

  • The 2017 Individual Giving Survey found that women were marginally more likely to donate money to charity than men (men 56%/ women 59%) over a four week period.
  • This difference is significantly more than that reported in previous Individual Giving research. For example in  2016 69% of women donated compared to 67% however in 2015 there was a difference of 15 percentage points between male and female giving (69% women/ 54% men).
 
 

In 2016 those aged between 16-24 years were least likely to have donated money to charity over a four week period, while those aged 55-64 years were most likely to have made a donation.

 

 
 

The population in the West of Northern Ireland was the region most likely to give in 2017 (64%).

  • Analysis of giving according to geography revealed that, in 2017, the region most likely to give money to charity over a four week period was West of Northern Ireland (64%) followed by the greater Belfast area, Belfast City and the South of Northern Ireland with 55%
  • The North of Northern Ireland was found to be the the least charitable region in 2017 with 54% donating. This is a change from 2016 which found that Belfast City was the least charitable regions. 
 
 

 3.0  Amount donated

The average mean amount donated to charity by donors over the last four weeks was £22.20 which is a substantial drop from 2016 (£37.80). However median donations for donors show no change from 2015 and 2016 and remains at £10. The mean amount donated per head of population was £17.44 and the median per head of population was £3.

  • In 2016 the mean donation for donors was £22.20 over a four week period which marks an decrease from £37.80 in 2016. At UK wide levels the figure is similar at £40 (CAF, 2017). 
  • The mean donation per head of population was £17.44. 
  • The median donation for donors was £10. This figure is unchanged from 2015 and 2016 and is £8 less than UK wide levels which stand at £18. 
  • The median donation per head of population was £3 which marks an decrease of £2 from 2016.

For the first time female mean donations is higher than male donations over a four week period, however analysis of the median donation reveals there was no difference between males and females in the 2016 study. 

  • The 2017 Individual Giving survey found that on average (mean) females donated more per head of population compared to males (£23.05/£21.29) over the last four weeks. This finding is consistent with UK wide research which found that the median donation from women is also higher than that of men (£20/£15). (CAF, 2017).
  • There was no difference between males and females when analysing the median donation per head of population (Male £3/ Female £3). 
 
 

The 16-24 years group continue to give the least to charity, however average donations have steadily increased from 2011.

  • In 2017 those aged 16-24 years gave £10.86 to charity on average (mean per head of population) over a four week period. This is a decrease from £12.38 in 2016. 
  • Those aged 35-44 years were the most generous group with an average (mean) donation of £31.94 per head of population over a four week period. 
 

 4.0  Distribution of giving

In 2017 60% of donors made a donation of more than £10 over a four week period, which marks an decrease of 13% percentage points since 2016. Only 1% of donors made an average monthly donation of more than £100 in 2017. 

 
 

 5.0  What triggered giving

Respondents were most likely to state that a street coin collector prompted them to donate money to charity. 

  • In the 2016 Individual Giving Survey, close to one-third (32%) of respondents who donated within the last 4 weeks stated that a street coin collector prompted them to donate, while 15% stated that requests from a friend, family member or colleague prompted them to make a donation.
  • 14% of donors were prompted by a fundraising event while one-tenth were prompted by direct debit promotions.
  • TV advertising (7%) proved a more popular fundraising marketing method than radio appeal (1%).
  • 5% of donors stated that they were prompted to donate because of regular giving plans that they had in place.
  • Other factors that prompted donors included church collections (4%), door to door collections (4%), collection box in a shop (3%) and raffles/ lotteries (3%).

What prompted you to donate in the last four weeks?

Prompt% Donors
Street coin collector32
Requests from a friend, family member or colleague15
Fundraising event14
Direct debit promotions10
TV advertising7
Regular giving5
Church collection4
Door to door collections4
Collection box in a shop3
Raffles/ lotteries3
Direct marketing by mail2
Radio appeal1
Direct marketing by mail1
Direct marketing by telephone1
Digital marketing (social media, SMS)1
Don't know5
Other10

 6.0  Causes

Based on findings from the 2015 Individual Giving survey, health was the most popular cause amongst donors (42%), followed by hospitals and hospices (16%), while children and young people ranked third (15%). This topic was not covered in the 2016 Individual Giving Survey.

  • A large proportion of donors gave to health based causes (42%/ n=238) over a four week period, making it the most popular charitable cause in 2015.
  • Hospitals and hospices was the second most popular cause (16%), while children and young people ranked third (15%). These findings are commensurate with the 2014 Individual Giving Survey which found health, hospitals and hospices, and children and young people were ranked in the top four causes.
  • Religious/ faith based causes ranked fifth, with 9% of donors supporting these causes. At UK level the proportion of donors giving to religious causes stands at 12% (CAF, 2014). Despite being ranked as the fifth most popular cause, religious/ faith based causes continue to attract the largest monthly donations from donors.
  • In 2015 donors were least likely to donate to heritage, arts and culture, education/school initiatives with less than 1% donating to these causes. Other less popular causes included community development, older people, emergency services, local poverty, sports and recreation, human rights, and conservation/environment, with each of these causes being selected by less than 2% of donors.
  • 5% of donors (n=23) had donated to the refugee crisis in the four weeks previous to the survey.
  • Women were more likely to donate to hospitals and hospices and children and young people's causes, while men were more likely to give to disaster relief.

Comparison of the Individual Giving Survey 2015 with UK trends highlights some interesting findings in terms of the popularity of causes amongst donors. For example, similar to Northern Ireland, the 2014 UK Giving Study found that children and young people (30%) and hospitals and hospices (25%) were ranked in the top three most popular causes. However these causes were supported by significantly smaller proportions of donors in Northern Ireland. There was also some discrepancy in the popularity of medical research between donors in Northern Ireland and the UK. For example, the 2014 UK Giving Study found that medical research was the most popular cause, with one-third of donors (33%) supporting it compared to 11% in Northern Ireland. In Northern Ireland, general health based causes were four times more popular amongst donors than UK donors. Animal welfare also proved to be significantly more popular amongst UK donors than those in Northern Ireland (21%/9%) as were disability causes (12%/5%). 

 
 

Health received the largest financial share of donations (26%), while religious/ faith based causes attracted the highest average (mean) donation from donors (£70.22).

  • Findings from the 2015 Individual Giving Survey show that health received the largest financial share of donations at 26%.
  • Religious causes achieved the second largest share of donations (22%) despite being supported by just 9% of donors. This is a result of the high average (mean) donation made to religious causes (£70.22), which is significantly higher than the overall donor average of £29.99 and significantly outstrips the average amounts given to the most popular causes (e.g. health at £17.94).
  • Causes that attracted an average donation of more than twenty pounds included disaster relief (£23.48), human rights (£25.97), the refugee crisis (£23.44) and homeless, housing and refuge (£21.04). Many of these causes did not rank highly in terms of overall financial share due to the small numbers of donors supporting these causes.
  • The three most popular causes amongst donors attracted average donations of less than £20, with the average amount donated to health based causes £17.94, while hospitals and hospices and children and young people attracted average donations of £12.45 and £14.89 respectively.
  • The causes likely to attract the least amount in terms of average donations included older people (£3.88), war veterans (£3.97), emergency services (£4) and arts and culture (£5.64). Notably all of these causes alongside human rights, community development, sports and recreation, local poverty, conservation/ environment, education/ schools and heritage all received less than 1% of the total financial share.
  • At UK wide level, after religious causes, the Arts achieve the largest typical donation. This indicates that donors in Northern Ireland are much less generous to Arts based causes than donors in the rest of the UK.
 
 

Two-thirds (66%) of donors gave to just one cause in the 2015 Individual Giving Survey. While just over one-third (34%) of donors gave to two causes or more, which is a significant decrease from 2010 (71%). This indicates that donors are prioritising their donations and are unlikely to spread their donations over a number of causes.

 
 

 7.0  Methods of giving

There has been little change in the most popular methods of giving in recent years, with cash continuing to be the most popular amongst donors. 

  • Cash remains the most popular method of giving money to charity, with the 2016 Individual Giving Survey revealing that 68% of donors used this method in the last four weeks.
  • Males were more likely to donate with cash than females (Males 72%/ Females 65%). Notably younger participants (16-24 years and 25-34 years) were more likely to donate with cash when compared to the older age groups.
  • Donating through direct debit was the next most common method with 30% making a donation this way.
  • Females were more likely to use direct debit as a method of payment compared to males (Females 34%/ Males 25%). Those aged in the youngest age group (16-24 years- 13%) were considerably less likely to have used direct debit compared to the older age groups.
  • These results are reflected in the latest UK Giving Study (CAF, 2016) which reported that cash donations and direct debits were the most popular methods used to donate (55% and 30% respectively).
  • 7% of respondents had donated money to charity by using a debit card and 5% had used a cheque. Other less popular methods of giving included online SMS (4%), payroll giving (3%) and credit card (1%). 

 
 

 8.0  Gifts in kind and legacy giving

 8.1  Gifts in Kind

Giving a gift in kind continues to be popular amongst the public. In 2016 50% of respondents stated that they donated a gift in kind in the four weeks prior to the survey.

  • Half of respondents (50%) donated a gift in kind (defined as a non-monetary donation to charity such as the giving of goods to a charity shop) in the four weeks prior to the survey.
  • This marks an increase of 7 percentage points from 2015, and represents a change in a downward trend of giving gifts in kind which had been observed since 2011.
  • Females (59%) were more likely to have donated a gift in kind than males (41%).
  • A continuing trend in this research is that those aged 55-64 years were most likely to donate a gift in kind to charity (59% in 2016).
  • Those aged 16-24 years were least likely to donate a gift in kind to charity (37%).
  • A UK wide study conducted by the Charities Aid Foundation reported that female donors were also more likely to buy charitable goods and to purchase goods in charity shops compared to men (CAF, 2015 ).
 
 

 8.2  Legacy Giving

The majority of people in Northern Ireland have no legacy plans in place.

  • The 2014 Individual Giving Survey found that 95% of respondents had no legacy plans in place, while just 2% had made a legacy pledge.
  • Sector Matters (who run a local will notifications service) recorded just 510 charitable wills in 2013, compared to 15,000 deaths. This means just 3% of Northern Irish deaths in 2013 led to a charitable will, compared to 7% in England and Wales (Legacy Foresight, 2015).  
  • The Sector Matters data also revealed that of the 1,570 charitable bequests left in 2013, 37% were to faith-based organisations, with health coming second (26%).
  • The 2013 Individual Giving Study revealed that 22% of people were either 'very likely' or 'quite likely' to leave a legacy to charity in their will. This figure is comparable with UK levels with 18% of adults reporting that they would consider leaving a charitable gift in their will.
  • The 2014 Individual Giving Survey found that just under one-tenth (9%) of respondents stated they would consider making a legacy pledge if charities outlined how their money would be spent. A further 9% stated that better communication on legacy giving would encourage them to make a pledge.
  • Overall, results from the recent Individual Giving Surveys indicate that while the majority of people in Northern Ireland have no legacy plans in place, there is a significant proportion of the population that would consider making a legacy.

Legacy giving is a new thematic area explored in NICVA’s Individual Giving research. Legacies can be defined as an ‘amount of money or property left to someone in a will’ (NCVO, 2015). They are becoming an increasingly important source of income for the voluntary and community sector, with the number of charitable legacies rising from 68,000 to 104,000 in the UK between 1988 and 2012, a growth rate of over 1.8% per annum ( Legacy Foresight, 2013). Health is the largest legacy sector in the UK, accounting for 43% of the total. Other popular sectors include animal charities (14%), conservation (8%), disability charities (8%), international development (6%) and children’s charities (4%) (Legacy Foresight, 2013).  Over the next five years total legacy income is expected to grow in the UK from £2.42bn to £2.90bn which marks an increase of 20%, or 4% per annum (Legacy Foresight, 2015).  

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 8.3  Changes to giving

The vast majority of respondents stated that they expected the amount of money they donate to charity in the next 12 months to remain the same or increase.

  • The 2016 Individual Giving Survey found that 14% of respondents expected the amount of money they donate to charity to increase and 77% expected the amount they donate to remain the same in the next 12 months.
  • Just 3% expected a decrease, while 5% were unsure how their giving would change.
  • Notably the 16-24 years age group were significantly more likely to state that their giving would increase (29%) compared to the other age groups.

I expect increase in the amount I give to charity in next 12 months

All %16-24 years25-34 years35-44 years45-54 years55-64 years65+ years
14%29%12%11%13%10%12%

 8.4  Planned giving

A considerable proportion of respondents (44%) had made plans to donate money or give a gift in kind to charity over the next 12 months.

  • The 2016 Individual Giving Survey found that 44% of participants had made plans to donate money or a gift in kind over the next 12 months.
  • Females (50%) were more likely to have made plans to give then males (38%), while participants in the 45-54 years (50%) and the 65+ years (49%) age groups were most likely to have made plans to give.

I plan to donate money or give a gift in kind to charity in the next 12 months

All %16-24 years25-34 years35-44 years45-54 years55-64 years65+ years
44%38%42%40%50%44%49%
  • The most popular form of planned giving was a gift in kind (39%) followed by direct debit (32%), with planning to participate in a fundraising event (22%) the third most popular option.  Less popular options included church collection (2%), payroll giving (2%), plan to organise a charitable gift in will (2%) and via mobile phone/text (2%).
 
 
  • Notably females (41%) were much more likely to plan to give a gift in kind compared to males (35%), and this trend was mirrored in the ‘I plan to participate in a fundraising’ event category (Females 25%/ Males 18%).

 9.0  Barriers to giving

The main barrier to giving to charity was 'personal financial reasons'. 

  • Those who stated that their giving over the next 12 months would decrease and those who did not give to charity over the last year (n=116) were asked why this was the case. The main reason for reduced giving over the next 12 months was 'personal financial reasons', with 55% of respondents selecting this option.  Notably females (65%) were much more likely to select this option than males (47%). 
Barrier%
Personal financial reasons55
I don't trust charities12
Uncertainty with the economy10
Haven't identified a charity that represents a cause that is important to me9
I don't know enough about how my money is being spent8
I am asked to donate too frequently7
I don't agree with how charities spend money4
There are too many charities to choose from3
I haven't been asked to donate2
I don't agree with the fundraising practices of charities2
I am worried that if I give once I will be asked to give again and again2
I am worried that my personal details will be shared2
Other5
Don't know5

 

  • The second most popular option was 'I don’t trust charities' (12%) followed by 'uncertainty with the economy' (10%). Respondents aged 45-54 years were much more likely to state that they 'did not trust charities' compared to the younger  age groups.

I don't trust charities

All16-24 years25-34 years35-44 years45-54 years55-64 years65+ years
12%6%6%5%25%14%19%

 

  • Other barriers that respondents provided included 'I haven’t identified a charity that represents a cause that is important to me' (9%), 'I don’t know enough about how my money is being spent' (8%) and 'I am asked to donate too frequently' (7%).
  • Notably males (11%) were more likely to state that they 'hadn’t identified a charity that represented a cause that was important' to them than females (7%).

 10.0  Social Media Giving

Social media giving was explored in the 2015 Individual Giving Survey. This survey found that giving through a social media fundraising campaign was popular amongst respondents in 2014-2015 (21% participated in a social media fundraising campaign), with many participating in the Ice Bucket Challenge. 

  • NICVA’s 2015 Individual Giving Survey found that 21% had participated in a social media campaign in the 12 months previous to the survey. This figure is slightly lower than the UK average which may be due to the timing of the Individual Giving Survey (the survey commenced on 22 September, just after the peak of Ice Bucket Challenge campaign). 
  • The Ice Bucket Challenge was the most popular social media fundraising campaign (72%/ n=153) followed by the no make-up selfie (34%/ n=72).
  • Of those who participated in social media fundraising campaigns over half (54%) stated their involvement prompted them to donate to causes to which they would not normally donate.

Since the publication of the previous State of the Sector report (2012) there has been a surge in social media fundraising campaigns across the UK and further afield. This activity peaked in 2014 with a number of high profile campaigns including the #nomakeupselfie, Stephen Sutton’s ‘thumbs up’ campaign and the Ice Bucket Challenge. It is estimated that one quarter of the UK population participated in a social media fundraising campaign, with the Ice Bucket Challenge the most popular (ComRes, 2014). Of those that participated in the Ice Bucket Challenge across the UK, 10% donated to charity with an average donation of £5. Almost two-thirds (61%) of these donations were reported to be additional to the amount given normally by donors (ComRes, 2014).

 
 

 11.0  Fundraising Regulation

Fundraising regulation was explored in the 2016 Individual Giving Survey. Just over two-thirds (67%) of respondents described their experiences of fundraising practices as positive.

  • Respondents were asked to describe their personal experiences of charities’ fundraising practices in Northern Ireland over the last two years.
  • Just over two-thirds (67%) of respondents described their experiences as either Very Positive or Fairly Positive.
  • Close to one fifth (17%) stated that their experiences were neither positive or negative while 14% stated that they had a negative experience. 

Fundraising by charities in Northern Ireland is largely regulated by the sector itself. However, this system is currently under review in Northern Ireland. In order to inform the review a number of questions were included in the 2016 Individual Giving Survey on the respondents’ experiences of fundraising practices by charities in Northern Ireland.

 
 

 

  • Those respondents that stated they had a negative experience of a fundraising practice (n=142) were asked which fundraising practice prompted their concern.  The fundraising practice most likely to prompt a concern amongst respondents was door to door collections (39%).
  • Direct debit promotions (29%) was the second most common practice to trigger a concern and street coin collection was third (22%).  
  • Other fundraising practices that were likely to trigger a concern included direct marketing by telephone 19% and direct marketing by mail (12%). 

Top five fundraising practices most likely to prompt concern

Fundraising Practice%
Door to door collections39%
Direct debit promotions29%
Street coin collector22%
Direct marketing by telephone19%
Direct marketing by mail12%

 

  • Just 1% of those that had a negative experience of a fundraising practice sought help or support.
  • Most of those who did seek help did so by confronting the charity itself. Fewer participants confirmed that they either confronted the person at the time or contacted the charity commission or a solicitor.