The annual Community Life Survey, commissioned by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport shows mixed results for the charities sector. While many respondents reported increased levels of informal volunteering, charities have reported reduced donations and less work undertaken by formal volunteers.
For example, of the survey’s 8,700 respondents, 24% had made donations to hospitals and hospices, 22% to medical research and 19% to animal welfare charities. These rates were all similar to, or slightly less than the data for the year 2019/20.
41% of respondents said that they had volunteered at least once a month over the past year. Many volunteers, however, have been doing informal voluntary work which has not been organised or supervised by a charitable organisation. A common example of informal voluntary work cited by the survey was organising and delivering shopping and prescriptions for vulnerable neighbours who have been shielding during the pandemic.
28% of respondents said that they would consider donating more to charity if they had greater confidence that the money was going to be spent effectively, while 24% said they would donate more if they knew it would be spent locally. This comes amid increased scrutiny of charity finances by the Charity Commission. In our last newsletter, we reported on excessive executive pay in the charities sector, which can only dent donors’ confidence that funds will be allocated primarily towards fulfilling the charity’s stated objectives.
With the government’s roadmap out of lockdown reaching its end, we hope that charities will be able to regain lost support and donations in the coming months.