The government White Paper on Giving
lays out the Prime Minister’s plans for encouraging more charitable donations and volunteering as part of his vision for a Big Society.
The recently released Citizenship survey data (2009-10) suggests that Mr Cameron will have his work cut out. The number of people volunteering informally on a regular basis1
has dropped by eight percentage points since 2005 to 29%. Formal volunteering has also fallen over this period, from 29% in 2005 to 25%. This is accompanied by a downward trend in charitable giving, since 2005 – from 78% to 72%2
We are currently analysing the full data-set for the Department for Communities and the topic reports will be published later this summer.
This decline is probably because people are concerned about both their personal financial circumstances and the economy as a whole. Ipsos MORI’s most recent Issues Index, conducted in May, shows that concerns about the economy still dominate the public agenda. Over half (55%) see this as one of the most important issues facing Britain today.
More positively, research by Ipsos MORI for the Charity Commission in May 2010 indicates that a focus on smaller local charities may be popular among potential supporters. Although people tend to trust charities more if they have heard of them (83% agree), they also trust them more if they are providing services in their local community (57% agree). The most popular reason given for trusting a particular charity more than others is having seen or experienced what they do (39% cite this reason).
These findings are reflected in our research conducted for the insurance company Zurich Municipal in Feb-March 2011, which indicates that the public is just as keen to support smaller local charities as large well known charities; 39% say they prefer to donate to smaller charities or voluntary groups who are working in their local community compared with 35% who prefer to donate to large well known charities with a good reputation (16% say they don’t give to charity and 10% ‘don’t know’).
The White Paper will include measures aimed at increasing charity donations from wealthy individuals, including £700,000 to support Philanthropy UK
, which connects wealthy donors to charities and establishing a new honours committee to ensure people are recognised for "exceptional and sustained philanthropy”.
Research conducted by Ipsos MORI on behalf of NESTA, as part of the work of the Big Society Finance Fund, investigated the potential for marketing social investments to the mass affluent (individuals with investment assets between £50k and £1 million) in the UK. The research found that many of the more affluent wealthy individuals (over £100k of investment assets) can be encouraged to try social investments and are motivated by a desire for wealth to achieve a social good as well as have the potential to produce a return.
Note 1: Defined as taking part ‘at least once a month’ in the 12 months prior to interview
Note 2: By specific methods in the 4 weeks prior to interview (excluding donating goods or prizes)