Almost two-thirds of people did not donate to charity last year, with half of them saying they did not because they had no trust in charities, according to new research.
A survey of more than 2,300 UK adults by the discount website VoucherCodesPro.co.uk found that 62 per cent of respondents did not donate to charity in 2015.
When asked why, 51 per cent said it was because they did not trust any charities, 33 per cent said they could not afford to donate money and 24 per cent said they did not know which charity would achieve the greatest impact. (Respondents could choose more than one option.)
Of those who said they did not trust charities, 27 per cent said it was because they believed their donations would not be used in the way they ought to be. The second most popular reason given in this sub-group was that the charity market was too saturated and the third was that it was not clear what donations would be used for.
The research was carried out anonymously by means of emails sent to the customers registered on VoucherCodesPro’s database.
Respondents were asked questions about their views on charities and whether or not they made a habit of donating to them. First, respondents were asked to reveal whether or not they donated to a charity in 2015 and those who said they did were asked to estimate how much they had donated in 2015. The average amount donated was £350 per person over the 12-month period.
Those who said they had not donated to charity in 2015 were presented with a list of possible answers and were asked to select all that applied to them.
Respondents who claimed they did not trust charities were asked to indicate the reasons why, again from a list of possible answers.
Commenting on the research, Adrian Sargeant, director of the Centre for Sustainable Philanthropy at Plymouth University, who recently carried out a large-scale survey on donor trust, satisfaction and commitment, said the sample used for VoucherCodePro’s survey was biased because respondents looking for online opportunities to save money were probably not entirely representative of the general public.
But he said the research should not be dismissed, despite flagging up what many in sector have already known for years.
"There is a relationship between public trust and participation in giving to charities," he said. "An increase in public trust is associated with an increase in participation in giving. It is a relatively weak association, but it exists.
"The percentages this highlights are deeply depressing but perhaps not altogether surprising given the high profile ‘anti-charity’ campaign that seemed to be being orchestrated last year."
Debra Allcock Tyler, chief executive of the training and publishing charity the Directory of Social Change, said other studies, such as one by the annual almanac of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations and the Charities Aid Foundation’s UK Giving Report, found the percentage of the adult giving population to be substantially higher.
"Can we trust how people justify their decisions not to give to charity?" she said. "Nobody wants to admit they don’t care or they’re just mean, which were not options in the survey.
"It’s far more socially acceptable to try to rationalise it by blaming the charities themselves. And it’s a pity really, because there is not a single person in this country who has not, is not, or will not benefit from the work that is being done by charities."