Growing Giving: How can we close the generational gap in giving?

mind the gapToday’s launch of the Parliamentary Inquiry on Growing Giving is an important move towards greater understanding of the patterns and trends in generational giving, and gives interested parties the opportunity to participate in an exciting piece of work designed to strengthen the charity sector.

Last year CAF published the Mind the Gap report, which showed that charities are becoming increasingly reliant on donations from older people. Specifically it found that over-60s now account for more than half of all charitable donations, and that donations coming from the under-30s have more than halved since the 1980s.

These trends mean that there are significant disparities across different generations when it comes to giving. What isn’t clear is why these variations exist, and – more importantly-  what can be done to encourage people to give time and money throughout their life so that charities are not overly reliant on the generosity of older people.

The Growing Giving inquiry has been launched with the enthusiastic support of a cross-party group of parliamentarians – David Blunkett MP, Andrew Percy MP and Baroness Tyler – and will call on a wide range of experts to give evidence to explore this issue further. The inquiry will be split into three stages, with each focusing on a distinct stage of a person’s life and aiming to investigate the opportunities that a typical person is given to engage with charities. Following the conclusion of the inquiry, recommendations will be made to government which will aim to strengthen the UK’s culture of giving.

To coincide with the launch of the inquiry CAF commissioned a poll of young people asking for their opinions on charities. Given that the Mind the Gap report points to declining donations amongst the under 30s, it is perhaps surprising that young people proved to be so charitable in spirit, and suggests that something is preventing young people from transforming their charitable intent into positive action as they grow older.

The poll discovered that 9-11 year olds give an average of £1.99 a month to charity, while 16-18 year olds were able to give £5.73 a month. More than half of young people (53%) believe it is more important to help others than help themselves, and more than two thirds (68%) believe that young people should give up some time to help others. It is clear that young people are altruistic, and the challenge for charities and government is finding ways to put that altruism into practice and encourage this generation to give throughout their adult life.

One finding of particular interest is that young people see schools as key to shaping their understanding of and engagement with charities, with 61% of young people saying that schools arranging charity work would be most likely to encourage them to help charities, followed by charity themed days at school (53%) and charities coming to school (49%). These scores were significantly stronger than those for celebrity endorsements, friends and families, and the inquiry will be exploring how the relationship between charities and schools can be developed.

The first stage of the inquiry is now open for interested parties who wish to submit written evidence, and will be focusing on the role of education, opportunities for young people to engage with charities, and reforming giving to be fit for the digital age. Read more about the inquiry to find out how you can be involved with Growing Giving and ensure that future generations continue to give.

Steve Clapperton

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