Average amount donated per person in last 12 months (2018):
You can download the data used in this chapter from the charts included here. This data can be reused under the Open Database License (ODbL).
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.
The Individual Giving Survey 2019 was commissioned by NICVA between January - February 2019. Data collection was undertaken using a fully representative sample (n=1,006) of the Northern Ireland adult (16+) population in terms of age, sex, socio-economic grouping and area. You can find out more about the methodology here.
The findings from previous Individual Giving Surveys are presented below alongside findings from the new Individual Giving Survey 2019. Where the results are based on previous surveys, these are noted in the grey boxes.
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.
- The Individual Charitable Giving Survey 2019 found that over three quarters of the adult population donated to charity (76%) over the last 12 months. This marks an decrease of 2% from 2017, and this figure is considerably higher than UK wide levels (60%) (CAF 2018).
- These findings suggest that people in Northern Ireland are one of the most likely regions to donate money to charity than other parts of the UK (CAF 2017). Those in Wales (92%), Ulster (91%), the South West (90%) and the East Midlands (90%) are the most likely to have undertaken charitable or social actions (CAF 2017).
- The Individual Giving Survey 2017 showed a decrease in giving, with 57% of respondents reporting that they donated money to charity over a four-week period. This marked a decrease from 2016 when 68% stated that they donated money to charity. In the UK, 33% of people reportedly donated to charity in a typical month (CAF 2017).
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).
The Individual Giving Survey 2019 reported almost equal levels of charitable giving by males and females in the past 12 months.
- The Individual Charitable Giving Survey 2019 found that women (79%) were marginally more likely to donate to charity than men (74%) in the past 12 months.
- Respondents aged between 16-24 years (63%) were the least likely to have donated to charity in the past 12 months whereas respondents aged 65+ years (84%) were the most likely group to have donated to charity.
- Donor activity was more prevalent amongst respondents from more affluent ABC1 backgrounds (87%) and those living in the Greater Belfast (82%) area.
- The Individual Giving Survey 2017 found that females (59%) were marginally more likely to donate money to charity than males (56%) over a four week period. In the previous survey, a similar pattern was reported (69% females/67% males).
- The population in the West of Northern Ireland was the region most likely to give in 2017 (64%).
- In 2017, analysis of giving according to geography revealed that the area 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.
- In 2017, the North of Northern Ireland was found to be the the least charitable region in 2017 with 54% donating. This marks a change from 2016 which found that Belfast City was the least charitable region.
On average, £141.34 was donated to charity per person in Northern Ireland during the past 12 months.
- During the past 12 months, on average respondents donated £141.34 to charity.
- The proportion of charity donations were on average significantly higher amongst males (£158.08) and those in the 65+ years (£181.47) age group.
- Respondents married/living with a partner (£166.39) donated more to charity than those who were single/separated/widowed/divorced (£109.87).
- The Individual Giving Survey 2017 reported that the mean donation for donors was £22.20 over a four week, indicating a decrease from £37.80 the previous year.
- 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 Individual Giving Surveys.
- The median donation per head of population was £3 which shows a decrease of £2 from the figure reported in 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 females donated more per head of population compared to males (£23.05 to £21.29) over the last four weeks. This finding is consistent with the UK, which found that the median donation from females (£20) was higher than that of males (£15). (CAF, 2017).
- No difference was reported 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 marks a decrease from £12.38 in 2016.
- Those aged 35-44 years donated on average £31.94 per head of population over a four week period.
- Respondents were most likely to state that a street coin collector prompted them to donate money to charity.
- In the Individual Giving Survey 2016, 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 regularly donated to charity.
- Other factors that prompted donors included church collections (4%), door to door collections (4%), collection box in a shop (3%) and raffles/lotteries (3%).
|Street coin collector||32|
|Requests from a friend, family member or colleague||15|
|Direct debit promotions||10|
|Door to door collections||4|
|Collection box in a shop||3|
|Direct marketing by mail||2|
|Direct marketing by mail||1|
|Direct marketing by telephone||1|
|Digital marketing (social media, SMS)||1|
- 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 (42%) gave to health based causes (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%).
- 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.
- 5% of donors had donated to the refugee crisis in the four weeks previous to the survey.
- Females were more likely to donate to hospitals and hospices and children and young people's causes, while males were more likely to give to disaster relief.
- 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 financial share of donations (22%) despite being supported by just 9% of donors. This is a result of the high average 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 an average amount of £17.94 donated to health-based causes, 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 lowest amounts 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—each received less than 1% of the total financial share.
- At a UK level, after religious causes, the Arts achieve the largest typical donation. This indicates that donors in Northern Ireland give less to Arts-based causes than donors in the rest of the UK.
- As reported in the Individual Giving Survey 2015, two-thirds (66%) of donors gave to just one cause. 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.
Almost half of respondents (46%) reported that they intend to donate money/gift to charity in the next 12 months.
- Almost half of respondents (46%) reported that they intend to donate money/gift to charity in the next 12 months. This is a small decrease from the figure (48%) reported in the Individual Giving Survey 2017.
- An almost equal proportion of males (43%) and females (48%) indicated their intention to donate or gift to charity in the next 12 months.
- Respondents in the 65+ (55%) age group, those from affluent ABC1 backgrounds (57%) and those living in the Greater Belfast (53%) area intend to give to charity in the next 12 months.
7.1 Cash Donations
Almost three quarters (73%) of respondents used cash as their main method of donating to charity.
- Cash remains the most popular method of donating to charity, with the Individual Giving Survey 2019 revealing that 73% of respondents had used this method at some time in the past. This is consistent with the UK (55%) whereby cash was also the most popular method of donation (CAF, 2018).
- Respondents aged 16-24 years (69%) and those aged 50-64 years (63%) were more likely to donate cash to charity.
- Almost one third (29%) of respondents used digital means to donate to charity and this method was more frequently used by those from the ABC1 socio-economic group and those residing in the Greater Belfast area.
- Over a tenth (11%) of respondents indicated that they never donate to charity. This is proportionally higher than the UK (5%) average who reported never donating to charity (CAF, 2018).
7.2 Digital Donations
89% of donors who had used digital (cashless payment) methods to donate to charity had done so in the last 12 months.
- Amongst the respondents who have used digital means as a method of donating, almost 9 in 10 (89%) had used this method to donate over the last 12 months.
- This activity was almost equally prevalent in females (90%) and males (89%).
- This method was the most preferred in the 35-49 years age group (95%), in those from ABC1 backgrounds (92%) and respondents living in the Greater Belfast area.
7.3 Types of Digital Donations
The most preferred digital method used by respondents to donate to charity was Direct Debit (80%).
- 80% of respondents donated to charity using direct debit methods. This was highest in the 65+ years age group (89%)
- Online giving platforms (16%) and PayPal (13%) were the second and third preferred methods of digital donation
- Contactless terminals (2%) was the least preferred method used to donate digitally to charity
7.4 One-off Contactless Payment
Almost 1 in 5 respondents (19%) indicated that they would be likely to donate more money through one-off contactless payment.
- 19% of respondents stated that they would be likely to donate more money through one-off contactless payment.
- In contrast, 59% of respondents indicated that it would be unlikely that they would donate more money through one-off contactless payment.
- Donating through one-off contactless payment was more significant amongst the younger age groups. Respondents aged 35-49 years (26%), followed by 16-24 years (25%) and those aged 25-34 years (21%) were likely to donate more money using this method.
- Respondents from affluent ABC1 backgrounds (28%) residing in the Greater Belfast (28%) area and those who made a digital donation in the last 12 months (43%) were also more likely to donate more money through one-off contactless payment.
7.5 Reasons for Digital Donations
Respondents (59%) indicated that they donated digitally because it was an easier method to use.
- 59% of respondents who have donated via digital means in the last 12 months indicated that they preferred this method as it was easier to use.
- 48% of respondents believed that donating digitally was more convenient.
- Respondents (15%) believed that digital donations were safer than cash donations.
Almost one fifth (15%) of respondents stated that they would be more likely to give to charity if it was on a rewards basis.
- Almost one fifth (15%) of respondents said that they would be more likely to give to charity if it was on a rewards basis.
- 75% of respondents indicated that it would not encourage them to donate to charity if it was on a rewards basis whilst 9% of respondents were undecided.
- The likelihood of giving to charity on a rewards basis was most prevalent amongst the 25-34 years age group (20%), those from ABC1 (17%) and DE (17%) socioeconomic backgrounds and those who had donated within the last 12 months (17%).
- 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 identified in this research is that those aged 55-64 years (59%) were most likely to donate a gift in kind to charity.
- Those aged 16-24 years (37%) were least likely to donate a gift in kind to charity.
- 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 males ( CAF, 2015 ).
The Individual Giving Survey 2019 showed that a small number of respondents (11%) had considered leaving a gift to charity in their will.
- The Individual Giving Survey 2019 showed that a small number of respondents (11%) had considered leaving a gift to charity in their will whereas 84% of respondents reported that they had not considered this as an option. This marks a decrease from the Individual Giving Survey 2017 where 16% of respondents had made a legacy pledge.
- A higher number of females (12%) had considered leaving a gift to charity compared to males (9%).
- Consideration levels were marginally more prevalent amongst those aged 50-64 years and more affluent respondents living in Greater Belfast .
- Only 5% of respondents had enquired about leaving a gift to charity in their will. This figure represents half of those who had considered donating (11%) a gift to charity in their will.
- Consistent with previous trends, those in the older age category, from affluent backgrounds in the Greater Belfast area had enquired about leaving a gift to charity in their will.
- A small number of respondents (4%) indicated that they had made a statement of intent to leave a gift to charity in their will. This was most prevalent in those aged 65+ years (7%) and represents a decrease from the figure reported in the Individual Giving Survey 2017 (7%).
- Only 4% of respondents had made a legacy pledge in their will. This was more prevalent in males (4%) than females (3%) and those in the higher age groups. This shows a decrease from the figure reported in the Individual Giving Survey 2017 (9%).
- 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 over the next 12 months.
- Just 3% expected a decrease, while 5% were unsure if their giving would change.
- Notably those aged 16-24 years were significantly more likely to state that their giving would increase (29%) compared to the other age groups.
|All %||16-24 years||25-34 years||35-44 years||45-54 years||55-64 years||65+ years|
- The main barrier to giving to charity was 'personal financial reasons'.
- The Individual Giving Survey 2016 reported that respondents who indicated that their giving over the next 12 months would decrease and those who did not give to charity over the last year were asked why this was the case. The main reason cited for potential reduction in giving over the next 12 months was 'personal financial reasons' (55%). Notably females (65%) were much more likely to select this option than males (47%)
|Personal financial reasons||55|
|I don't trust charities||12|
|Uncertainty with the economy||10|
|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|
|I am asked to donate too frequently||7|
|I don't agree with how charities spend money||4|
|There are too many charities to choose from||3|
|I haven't been asked to donate||2|
|I don't agree with the fundraising practices of charities||2|
|I am worried that if I give once I will be asked to give again and again||2|
|I am worried that my personal details will be shared||2|
- 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.
|All||16-24 years||25-34 years||35-44 years||45-54 years||55-64 years||65+ years|
- 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%).
- 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%).
Following the 2016 Referendum, respondents to the Individual Giving Survey 2019 were asked whether the amount they donate to charity had increased or decreased as a result of Brexit.
- The majority (88%) of respondents indicated that the amount they donated to charity since the Brexit referendum had largely remained the same. In contrast, 10% of respondents indicated that the amount they donated since Brexit had decreased.
- The decline in donations was more prevalent amongst respondents aged 35-49 years (14%) and in those from C2 socioeconomic backgrounds (13%).
- The Individual Giving Survey 2015 found that giving through a social media fundraising campaign was popular amongst respondents in 2014-15.
- 21% participated in a social media fundraising campaign in the 12 months previous to the Survey, with many participating in the Ice Bucket Challenge. This figure is slightly lower than the UK average, which may be due to the timing of the 2015 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%) followed by the No Make-up Selfie (34%).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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%).
|Door to door collections||39%|
|Direct debit promotions||29%|
|Street coin collector||22%|
|Direct marketing by telephone||19%|
|Direct marketing by mail||12%|
- 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.
 Note: Though the CAF UK Giving 2017 report refers to Ulster, the survey samples 'giving behaviours in the UK' so this is assumed to mean the geographical limits of the six counties of Northern Ireland. You can find out more about the CAF reports here .