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Donate to charity

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Find out more about who gives to charity in the UK, how the UK compares to other countries in terms of charitable giving and the most popular ways to give to ensure maximum impact.

How many people give to charity in the UK?

 Around 63% of people in England said they gave directly to charity in 2021. The average monthly donation was £27.

Who gives to charity?

Anyone can make a donation to a cause that means something to them!

Statistically though, evidence suggests that women are more likely to give to charity than men. The most charitable age group were those over the age of 75, with 85% of people in that age group making donations. That’s not to say that younger people don’t also give, with over half of survey respondents in all age categories making donations.

In 2019, the Charities Aid Foundation reported that “the overall estimate of household giving in the UK is relatively stable in cash terms at £10.1bn, but that is a result of a smaller group of dedicated donors giving more”.

How many charities are there in the UK?

Laxmi Devi Saud

There are approximately 169,000 charities in England and Wales as of 2021.

They cover the following main sectors:

  • International NGOs, like Practical Action
  • Animals
  • Arts and Culture
  • Children
  • Community Development
  • Education
  • Environmental including Climate Change
  • Health
  • Human Services

What makes people give to charity?

A 2020 YouGov poll found that people are more likely to give to charity if asked in person, whether by a friend or a fundraiser, compared to being prompted by an advert or an email.

It was found that a third of Britons who have donated to charity did so without being prompted, but 11% did so because a friend or family member asked them to. 9% say their last donation was the result of a fundraiser approaching them in the street or in a shopping centre and 5% contributed to a bucket or box collection.

How to donate to charity 


Whether you donate to a charity as a way of supporting the local community, to give back or because you’re personally affected by a cause, there are many ways to donate to charity including digital methods.

Some of the most popular ways of donating are:

  • Responding to a particular appeal, over the phone, online or by text
  • Giving regularly through your salary
  • Leaving a legacy in your Will
  • Making a gift in memory of a loved one
  • Setting up a direct debit for regular payments
  • Putting money into collection boxes or donation tins
  • Child sponsorship
  • Giving clothes or household goods to a charity shop or charity bag collector
  • Supporting a charity-affiliated lottery or prize draw
  • Through an app such as Just Giving or Go Fund Me
  • As a present to someone who is celebrating Christmas, a birthday or getting married
  • Through a retailer affiliate scheme, such as Amazon Smile.

Donating to charities through volunteering

Many people give their time to charities, including by operating phone helplines, working in charity shops or giving talks.

According to a survey of around 7,500 respondents, in 2019/20 around 32.4% of adults in England participated in some sort of volunteering work.

Over the period from 2005 until 2016 around a quarter of people responding to the survey had volunteered in the previous year, which then peaked at 32.9% in 2016/7 before falling back the next year to 29.2%.

What is Gift Aid?

If you are in the UK and are a tax payer, you can complete a simple declaration for so that a charity can claim the tax back on any donation, at no extra cost to the person making the donation. This means that for every pound donated by an individual an additional 25p can be received by the registered charity receiving it.

According to the latest Government data, last year Gift Aid was worth £1.38bn to charities . Figures from HMRC showed that income from Gift Aid dropped by just 1% in the year to April 2021, despite the pandemic as charities made £1.4 billion from Gift Aid in 2019-20 and £1.35bn in 2018-19.

Post Covid donations

Since the first Covid-19 lockdown in the UK, the number of people who have recently donated to UK charities has fallen by almost three million compared with before the pandemic, a new report has found.

Research from the tech company Lightful, in partnership with the pollsters YouGov, found that about 22.5 million people donated to charity in the three months to October 2021. This is compared with 25.4 million who donated during the same period in 2019. The figures were based on responses from more than 300,000 people.

Vinay Nair, the chief executive of Lightful, commenting on the research in the Third Sector magazine, said digital and hybrid fundraising approaches would help enable charities to be successful in the future.

“While charities proved their resilience during the acute phase of the pandemic, they are now having to fight even harder for attention to generate funds that will guarantee their survival and ability to deliver their vital work to those most in need”, Nair said.

Company donations

As well as direct charitable donations from companies and businesses of all sizes, many companies donate both in kind, time and money through their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategies to impact social change.

The Digital Marketing Institute has named many common examples of CSR including, participating in fair trade, charitable global giving, community and virtual volunteering of their employees, socially conscious investments and reducing carbon footprints.

India was the first country in the world to enshrine corporate giving into law. Following a change in company law in April 2014. This stated that businesses with annual revenues of more than 10bn rupees (£105m) must give away 2% of their net profit to charity. Areas they can invest this money in include education, poverty, gender equality and hunger.

How does the UK do?

According to the world population review, the UK is ranked 7th in the world on the World Giving Index (WGI), ranking behind the USA, Myanmar, New Zealand, Australia, Ireland and Canada.

The report looks at three aspects of giving behaviour:

  • Helped a stranger
  • Donated money to a charity
  • Volunteered time to an organisation

The United Kingdom has an overall charitable score of 54%, with the second-highest donation rate of 71%, a helping strangers rate of 60%, and a volunteer rate of 30%. The report surveyed over 1.3 million people in 125 countries to collect this data.