Giving to charities drops amid Covid pandemic

25 Mar 2021 Shauna O'Neill    Last updated: 25 Mar 2021

Individual Giving 2021 infographic

People in Northern Ireland gave significantly less to charity during the last 12 months compared to the same period in 2019.  That’s according to new research from NICVA into charitable giving in Northern Ireland.

On average, over £135 was donated to charity per person in Northern Ireland during 2020. This marked a considerable decrease on the 2019 figure of almost £169 per person.

Despite increased demand for the crucial advice, support and services provided by the sector the research also found that the number of people making donations has dropped to 68%. While this figure is higher than the UK average, it has been declining in Northern Ireland year on year since 2017.

In a year when COVID19 changed how we live, work and interact with each other, donor giving has also been impacted with over a quarter of those surveyed decreasing their charitable giving since the beginning of the pandemic. Individuals cited worries about their personal finances and job losses making them less likely to give.

Although we are becoming an increasingly cashless society, cash consistently remains the preferred method of giving with 57% donating by this means. But with less opportunities to physically donate during lockdown, this could account for some of the reduction in giving.

Geoff Nuttall, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at NICVA said:

“In this unprecedented year charities dependent on public fundraising had to cancel fundraising events, close their shops and stop in-person fundraising. While many charities adapted and moved fundraising online, the cancellation of mass fundraising events such as the Belfast marathon and large community events, have hit charities hard at a time when their resources are stretched to the limit.

Looking to the future and with lockdown restrictions easing we would hope that the return of face to face fundraising and charity shops reopening will turn the tide and see vital donor support return for the charities that have been serving our communities over this past year.”

Key findings from NICVA’s Individual Giving survey include:

  • On average, £135.78 was donated to charity per person in Northern Ireland during the past 12 months. The figure reported in 2020 was £168.86 per person
  • Almost three quarters of the adult population donated to charity (68%) over the last 12 months
  • Almost half of respondents (46%) reported that they intend to donate money/gift to charity in the next 12 months
  • Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, over a quarter (27%) of respondents had decreased their charitable giving
  • Several reasons for the decrease in giving were cited including job losses/income loss (43%) and prefer to support local business (25%)
  • In the next 12 months, three quarters (75%) of respondents expected their charitable giving to remain the same, 16% expected their giving to increase whilst nearly 1 in 10 (9%) expected it to decrease. Job loss/income loss (53%) was cited as the main reason for this decrease
  • Uncertainty around job security due to the Covid-19 pandemic influenced around 21% of respondents to donate less to charity. This was more prevalent in females (22%) and those aged 25-34 (29%)
  • Cash remains the most popular method of donating to charity, with 57% of donors using this method. The most preferred digital method used by respondents to donate to charity was Direct Debit (43%). This marked a significant decrease in the number of respondents who donated via direct debit (78%) from the previous survey
  • PayPal (37%) was the second most utilised method of donating digitally. This signified a notable increase from the figure cited in the Individual Giving Survey 2020 whereby 13% of respondents used this method
  • There was also a marked increase in the use of online giving platforms (32%) e.g., Crowdfunding compared with 18% reported in 2020.

The full research findings are available here's picture
by Shauna O'Neill

Communications Officer

[email protected]

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