Money for Good UK

Donations from individuals are crucial for charities’ survival. They allow charities the flexibility to innovate and find new ways to solve social problems. But what do donors think about when deciding where and how much to give? And what would inspire them to give more? Money for Good UK explores the habits, attitudes and motivations of the UK’s donors.

Nearly half of UK voluntary organisations receive the majority of their funding from individuals; last year donors gave £9.3bn. Thinking about who is donating, why, and what would make them donate more, is important for the future of the charity sector, and those it helps. Money for Good UK highlights the lack of a culture of giving in the UK, and shows that donors find it hard to understand where their money goes, and whether the charities they support really make a difference.

Key findings

  • Donors care about impact. Three in five pay close or extremely close attention to how their donation will be used. Donors say they pay little attention to being thanked for their donation.
  • 38% of donors do research before making a significant donation. Most use it to help them to decide whether to donate, but almost a fifth (18%) of those who research look for information to help them decide between multiple charities.
  • Giving culture in the UK is weak. Less than half of donors think people should donate to charity if they have the means. This figure is based on a sample of those who gave over £50 in the last year, which is only around four in ten people in the total population. The sense of duty to donate may be even lower in those who donate at a lower level or not at all.
  • Donors most often give in an ad hoc way, but prefer committed giving via direct debit. High-income donors show a greater preference for ad-hoc giving—one-off donations, sponsoring someone or fundraising events.
  • Donors are loyal in their key charity relationships. 70% of mainstream donors have given for the last three years to the organisation where they made their largest donation, and 90% intend to give to the same organisation next year.

We identified seven donor segments based on donor motivation and attitudes. Read more about them in chapter three of the report.

Increasing giving

Charities currently underperform in the areas donors care most about: explaining how donations are used and providing evidence of impact. If charities met their needs better, 37% of mainstream and 54% of high-income donors say they would change their giving behaviour.

20% of mainstream donors and 34% of high-income donors would increase their overall giving if charities did a better job in the areas they care about. Mainstream donors would give an average £155 more, and high-income £603 more per year. This equates to an additional £665m per year—an increase in total giving of about 11%. On top of that, donors giving over £1.7bn might be willing to switch their donations to charities that did a better job in the areas they care about.

Learn more

There is a wealth of information about Money for Good UK on NPC’s website.

NPC worked with Ipsos MORI to survey 3,000 people across the UK, including both high-income (earning over £150k a year) and mainstream donors. We also carried out focus groups and in-depth interviews. Read more in Ipsos MORI’s technical report and Ipsos MORI’s data report.

The Money for Good UK data is made available under the Open Data Commons Attribution License v1.0.

Watch report author Sally Bagwell talk through the key findings: