Giving in UK Down 20 Percent in 2011-12

Donations to charity in the United Kingdom fell 20 percent in 2011-12, a report from the and the London-based finds.

Based on a survey conducted by the , (19 pages, PDF) found that charitable donations in 2011-12 totaled £9.3 billion, down £2.3 billion on a year-over-year inflation-adjusted basis — the largest drop since the survey was launched in 2004-05. According to the report, both the number of people giving to charity and the average amount donated declined, with the proportion of people donating to charity in a typical month falling from 58 percent in 2010-11 to 55 percent in 2011-12, and the average amount donated falling from £11 to £10.

It is "highly possible" that economic issues were to blame for the declines, said Richard Harrison, director of research at CAF. "We hope it is a one-off drop and not the start of a trend, but it is impossible for us to say. The issue is that we cannot afford to take that gamble. We know charities are suffering." In response to the findings, CAF and NCVO have launched a campaign that encourages businesses and the public to support charities through regular giving, calls on the government to modernize and promote the giving program, and urges charities to work with the government to boost their fundraising results and impact.

At the same time, some fundraising experts have questioned the findings of the report. CEO Peter Lewis told that the figures did not match the experiences of its members, who say donations have either increased or remained flat.

"A fall of that scale is very unusual and could not be explained by any trends we've seen before," said Cathy Pharoah, a professor of charity funding at . "It vastly outstrips changes in the economy."

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