Medical and children’s charities miss out on £800m lockdown fundraising boost

The UK public gave £800m more than usual to charity during Covid-19 lockdown as public giving shifted towards NHS charities but away from medical research.

Children’s charities and those supporting animal welfare were also among charities to miss out, according to a Covid-19 report by the Charities Aid Foundation into UK household giving during lockdown.

This found that between January and June 2020 the public donated £5.4bn to charity, which is £800m more than for the same period in 2019.

The increase in giving brings the lockdown period in line with the peak seasonal fundraising months of November and December, in the run up to Christmas and high profile campaigns such as the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal.

But not all charity sectors are benefitting. CAF found that many donors have been shifting their giving to charities that are supporting the NHS.

This has seen fundraising diverted away from medical research charities, which lost out on an estimated £174m during the first half of 2020.

Further fears around income losses among medical research charities were also raised by the Institute of Public Policy Research this month.

“There has never been a time in living memory when we have collectively been more aware of the value of charity in our lives and that is clearly borne out in this CAF report and in the generosity of the British people,” said CAF chief executive Neil Heslop.

“It is also our sincere hope that these extraordinary levels of giving serve as inspiration and reminds us of what is possible when people come together to support the causes closest to their hearts.

“It is worth remembering that this is not about the charities themselves – at the end of the day it is about the causes they support, be they our neighbours, our friends, or our natural world. We need them all to survive and to thrive, for all of our sakes.”

CAF’s research also found an increase in donations to hospices and hospitals during the height of the pandemic’s first wave. One in five people reported donating to charities, supporting the NHS.

Cash donations are down, from 34% in March to just 13% in April. This reflects the curtailing of charity box collections, prize draws and other cash transactions.

Giving online increased markedly over the first half of 2020 from 13% to 24%. Trust in charities also increased and the UK remains one of the most generous countries in the world, ranked in the top ten in CAF’s World Giving Index.

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