Call for more consolidated research on giving

Call for more consolidated research on giving


A call for more consolidated research into giving follows the publication of two surveys that shows different levels of donations for the UK in 2011.

According to a new survey from Investec, donations to charity dropped by 12% over the last year, while the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) in its Giving UK 2011 survey says donations rose slightly from £10.6bn to £11bn. However, they remained static if adjusted for inflation.

CAF director of research Richard Harrison said: “What we need is more consolidated research so that we can rely on a smaller and highly trusted set of data. This way we can spend less time discussing the difference in research findings and more on policy work to implement the findings.”

He welcomed the recent launch of the Third Sector Research Centre’s new research portal and encouraged people to contribute to it. The portal is a one-stop shop for evidence on a range of subjects including funding, social impact and policy.

Better access to data is also on the agenda of The Philanthropy Review, a group convened for a year in 2010 to take a fresh look at philanthropy, and is being led by Sir Vernon Ellis.

He said at the time of the Government’s White Paper on Giving in May 2011: “If we are to have better focused initiatives, particularly those aimed at the more wealthy, we need much more accurate and focused data than we have at present.”

Cathy Pharoah of CGAP also sees better data as an area of concern and says she would like the government to provide more tax-related  data on giving, in particular around major gifts where the biggest knowledge gap exists.

The Investec Survey was based on research among 2,000 people during November 2011 and the CAF Survey sampled at least 3,000 people in three separate Omnibus surveys carried out by the Office of National Statistics during the course of last year.

Harrison says: “Both surveys paint a stark picture and show that charities need the government and public to support them more than ever. In terms of methodology, we think you need to be realistic and ask people how much they gave in the last month rather than over the previous year. We also think it is important to ask several times to reflect seasonality.”

The Investec research shows that overall 24% of people claim to have donated less to charities in 2011 than they did in 2010. Only 11% claim to have donated more, with 53% estimated that the size of their donations stayed the same (the remaining 12% were unsure how much they will have given to charities this year).

Investec head of banking Linda McBain said:“These are very difficult times for many charities because they can face growing demand for their support and services, but also falling donations and very poor returns on their cash from deposit accounts.”

On a regional basis, London had the highest percentage of people (85%) giving to charities in 2011, compared to the North West which had the lowest (73%), according to the Investec research. Those in London also had the highest average level of donation to charities of any part of the UK (£420.20) compared to those in the East Midlands which had the lowest (£82.03 per person). 

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Research portal to provide evidence for funders