Opinion: Men are not paying their way

We know about the gender pay gap. Now there's a new divide between the sexes for us to worry about: the disparity between what men and women donate to charity. A recent survey by the Charities Aid Foundation revealed that women give 25 per cent more than men, despite earning on average 26 per cent less.

Not that either sex can really lay claim to being that generous. In Britain the sums we give to charity aren't impressive, certainly by US standards.

Here charitable donations amount to around 1 percent of GDP - just half of what they are on the other side of the Atlantic.

The survey found that women donate £13.55 each month, compared to men's £10.81. But even at these modest levels, charities would see their donations increase by tens of millions of pounds if the gender giving gap was closed.

Since levels of charitable giving seem to be on the slide, there's particular reason to consider how to persuade men to donate more. Both the proportion of people giving to charity and the average monthly donation has fallen in the past 12 months. This finding prompted renewed calls from various umbrella bodies for tax-efficient giving to be more vigorously promoted.

But part of the answer to stemming this decline might lie in encouraging men to cough up a bit more. With gender pay inequalities as they are, there's every reason for men to be more philanthropic than women, not less. With worrying signs that Britain may be becoming a less generous nation, there's no better time to consider how to persuade men to give more.

No doubt the Charities Aid Foundation survey will be a hot topic for debate at its annual conference this week, where representatives from each of the three main political parties will be addressing the conference.

Perhaps Charities Minister Fiona Mactaggart and Shadow minister Jacqui Lait will take the opportunity to point out to their Liberal Democrat (and male) counterpart, Simon Hughes, that it's about time that men matched up to women on the giving front.

Lisa Harker is chair of the Daycare Trust, but writes in a personal capacity

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