Local giving initiatives are unlikely to boost total donations, Navca warns

Sheffield Hallam University study urges charities seeking more local support to target professionals and middle-aged women

Local Giving report
Local Giving report

Local giving initiatives are unlikely to increase significantly the total amount of charitable donations, according to a report published today by the local infrastructure body Navca.

Local Giving, written by academics at the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research at Sheffield Hallam University, says that local giving initiatives should instead seek ways of persuading existing donors to give a greater proportion of their donations to local causes.

It says giving has remained stable over a number of years and is dominated by donations to major national charities, and that local giving is therefore "unlikely to significantly increase the total amount of charitable donations".

In order to increase local giving it will be necessary to change "deep-seated norms" around giving, it says.

The report, which is based on a review of surveys on key trends in giving, including the recent UK Giving 2011 survey, says that giving at a local level is likely to be based on donor preferences rather than local need, and that it is important not to "overestimate the extent to which donors act rationally in their giving decisions".

The report says charities that want to increase local giving should build relationships with community foundations and local media, develop specialist local fundraisers, and invest in understanding systems and technologies such as Gift Aid, payroll giving, giving by direct debit, social media and sites such as localgiving.com.

Successful models of local giving maximise returns if they target middle-aged women and people in professional occupations, and a key challenge is to engage other groups. it says. Local welfare organisations will struggle to attract giving "as this is not a focus of donor activity".

It also recommends the development of a national policy to support local giving.

"There appears to be a major opportunity for Navca to lead a national debate around the local dimension of local giving, both to ensure that local voluntary organisations are not adversely affected but also that alternatives are developed to a debate which thus far has been framed at a national level," it says.

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