Children’s charities facing long term threat to their survival, research is warning

Children’s charities are facing a long-term decline in their popularity among the public as they battle to attract donations and support, researchers are warning.

While a decade ago 40% people listed children and young people as their favourite cause to support, this proportion has fallen this year to 25%.

“Only time will tell if this figure drops any further”, warned nfpResearch, which has carried out the analysis.

A major factor in declining popularity of children’s charities is long term demographic change in the UK impacting their traditional supporters.

These supporters are increasingly less likely to have a personal connection to children’s charities, warned nfpResearch. This connection is key driver for people to support a good cause, it added.

The ageing population is among demographic changes to impact support for children’s charities.

This is leaving more people “in the empty-nest phase” of their lives as their “personal connection to children’s causes diminishes”.

Instead, “older generations, who once passionately supported initiatives aimed at helping children, are now turning their gaze toward other issues more relevant to themselves and their peers”.

Meanwhile more of those in Generation X and Millennials are waiting longer to have children or deciding not to start a family, compared to previous generations. This is increasing the number of childfree households and further eroding “key personal connections that lead them to donate to children’s charities”.

The findings have emerged shortly after children’s charities organisation Children England announced it is to close after 81 years due to “financial challenges”.

“Diminishing attention towards children’s charities almost certainly had its role in the difficulties experienced by Children England and has likely been felt by a wider number of children’s charities across the sector,” said nfpResearch.

It added that it is “shocking to see the change that the children’s charity sector has undergone”, over the last decade.

For other good causes, such as cancer charities, “consistency is the norm” said nfpResearch and “drastic changes in popularity are really quite rare”.

Action needed

The research firm said that if children’s charities are to “counteract the effects of this slump” they need to improve how they promote their fundraising and other campaigning to the public.

This includes highlighting specific areas of expertise.

“The public like specificity, and so long-term, transparent plans and a clear mission statement can help charities to reclaim audiences who might need to know the hows and whys of your operation,” said nfpResearch.

Children’s charities also need to boost their involvement with wider campaigns and movements that are attracting the public’s attention, such as around mental health problems post pandemic. This issue is of particular interest among younger generations of donors and charity supporters.

“Seizing the attention of younger audiences can be a long-term investment,” said the research firm.

It added: “Lastly, we recommend keeping aware of public trends. Most lasting social changes happen gradually, and so identifying the early stages of these shifts can help your organisation to futureproof your strategy and stay ahead of the curve.”

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