By Andrew Holt
Tech-savvy pensioners are driving a boom in online giving, with churches and the arts the major beneficiaries.
According to research from JustGiving, internet giving to religious causes has increased by 128% over the last five years, while culture and arts donations have trebled.
Older donors, by far the most generous in Britain, have led this trend and are choosing the inbox over the collection box in ever larger numbers, despite a marked decline in church attendance.
Direct religious web donations by the over-60s outstripped those of any other age-group, nearly trebling over the period.
And direct online donations to culture and arts organisations by the over-60s increased more than fivefold5 – more than twice the rate of younger groups.
A spike in internet usage among older people is helping to drive the move online, as has encouragement from beneficiaries like churches and museums, who are wising up to the tax benefits of online giving and are encouraging their supporters to log-on.
The uplift in online religious giving has also been greatly assisted by Britain’s 2.4 million Muslims with the Islamic practice of Zakat generating close to £1 million in online donations in 2010 and 2011 respectively - more than other major giving landmarks like Gary Barlow’s Jubilee single or the Diamond Jubilee.
Likewise, there was a major spike in giving to religious charities following the Pakistan floods of 2010/2011.
And harnessing the Internet to rally the faithful has now become a priority for many religious groups.
For instance, the church St Michael and All Angels in West London has so far raised over £40,000 online through JustGiving to pay for its Organ & Parish Rooms Project by singing every single hymn in the New English Hymnal without a break.
Commenting on the findings, Rt Revd Stephen Lowe, retired Church of England bishop for urban life and faith said: “To keep up with their congregations, churches and faith groups need to catch up on modern methods of charitable giving beyond the plate and Direct Debit.
"People want the ability to respond immediately to need in a world which is increasingly cashless, which is why so many of them are now giving online.”
Anne-Marie Huby, MD of JustGiving, said: “As the huge rise in online religious giving shows, digital giving is now reaching older and more traditional segments of the giving public. It shows the nation is wising up to the power of technology to make giving easier and more tax efficient.”
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