Donation dry spell forecast: 40% of UK charities expect a fall in donations

Following a record year for donations in 2020, millions of givers plan to cut back

New research suggests charities could face a tough 2022 as demand for their services continues but funding falls away.

The research commissioned by the Covid-19 Support Fund, established by the insurance and long-term savings sector, suggests charities face further challenges over the next year and into 2022 with charitable giving by the public predicted to fall.

  • Four in 10 (40%) charities questioned said they expect fewer donations in the next year.
  • An estimated 2.2 million givers intend to cut back the amount they donate post-pandemic, while around 1.6 million have already had to cancel a direct debit to charity.

The study goes on to reveal that the way people give might also change. Of those who do still intend to donate, more than one in ten (11%) are planning to donate more to smaller charities and causes post-pandemic. 10% want to support charities by gifting their time through volunteering.

Kerrie Eastman is CEO at Streets2Home, a charity based in Harlow, Essex which runs a day centre for homeless people in the community to rest, make friends and get assistance;

We’ve had many individuals and organisations show empathy towards our work during the pandemic and who have generously donated money and essential items to benefit the Harlow homeless community. Whilst it’s difficult to predict what the next year will bring, after giving so much during the crisis, we are anticipating a fall in donations from the public, post-pandemic as many of our supporters are local people and small businesses who have and will continue to suffer the decline in the economy due to the loss of employment, reduced salaries and the impact the pandemic has had on small local businesses.  As a small charity this is obviously concerning for us, but we remain optimistic.

 “We have been fortunate to benefit from the Covid-19 Support Fund via the National Emergencies Trust and Essex Community Foundation. The funds we received allowed us to continue supporting those in need with essential services and also meet operational costs, ensuring our survival. As a result, Streets2Homes is still here and very much ready to reopen the doors to our day centre as soon as it is safe to do

Gee Cook CEO of New Routes, a refugee charity in Norwich, agrees, saying:

The pandemic has affected charities up and down the country, and New Routes is no exception to that. Although it has been wonderful to see people in the Norwich community come together and support local causes over the course of the pandemic, as a small charity we have also noticed the impact that the prolonged crisis is having on people’s ability to give.

“Over the past few months we have definitely noticed a reduction in the number of ad-hoc donations compared to previous years, which can really add up for a small charity like ours. This makes our regular donors even more important, but we’re also seeing fewer of those coming on board lately.

“Large businesses are in a position to really help plug this funding gap. Our NET grant came via the Covid-19 Support Fund, and was massively important for us at a time when other sources of funding dried up. Without it we might have struggled to offer the services that our community desperately needs during this time.”

Support from business and industry has proved crucial for the charity sector during the pandemic, with initiatives such as the Covid-19 Support Fund providing a much needed funding boost for larger charities and grassroots organisations alike.

Launched in May 2020 by the insurance and long-term savings industry, the Covid-19 Support Fund raised over £100m. The funds were allocated to help charities meet increased demand during the crisis and to safeguard vital services in the longer term.

Through partners – including the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF), National Emergency Trust (NET) and Business in the Community – the Support Fund has ensured thousands of grassroots charities can continue to enact their visions to improve communities and support the most vulnerable. The fund has also donated over £7m to reach more women and children affected by domestic abuse, made an investment to reskill more than 8,000 people affected by the pandemic, donated £7m to help those living with dementia and given a grant to Barnardo’s to launch the first UK-wide helpline and live webchat facility for Black, Asian and minority ethnic children, young people and their families.


Notes for Editors

  • Research conducted by Opinium on behalf of the Covid-19 Support Fund between 5-9th March 2021. Sample size of 2,000 UK adults, results are weighted to be nationally representative.
  • 25 UK charities were questioned online via SurveyMonkey during March 2021.

Colm Holmes, Chair of the Covid-19 Support Fund Governance Committee & Global CEO, General Insurance, Aviva said:

Our findings suggest charities could face a funding shortfall going into 2022 which could have serious repercussions on those who depend on their support. Whilst we are on a roadmap to recovery, keeping charities afloat in these tough times is crucial in helping the nation build back better.”