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Battling for donations in a dog-eat-dog climate

Edward Weston Executive 29/09/2022

Charitable donations have become increasingly segmented in the last five years, following subtle shifts toward donors becoming more selective with the not-for-profit causes they choose to support.

The average monthly donation to animal welfare charities, for example, has increased by 40% since 2017, whilst donations for medical research charities, hospitals, and hospices have slowly decreased over the same period.

55% of respondents said it was now harder (32%) or much harder (23%) to give to charity due to their financial situation.

Who’s the favourite?

With the recent economic conditions shining a light on inequality and those that are vulnerable, public support has mostly been focused on those ‘near and dear’. Notably, young persons and animal welfare charities saw some of the largest uptakes in brand love during the pandemic, whereas charities centred around social issues (such as conservation, social justice, and reintegration) witnessed less attention.

However, public support is also influenced by top-of-mind awareness. Whilst animal welfare charities were the most popular cause in January and February 2022, the Charities Aid Foundation report that animal welfare donations were overtaken by overseas aid and disaster relief, which saw a 44% increase in March of donors who reported giving to these causes, seemingly in response to events in Ukraine.

Cost-of-giving crisis

Looking at the bigger picture, the not-for-profit sector has experienced a gradual decline in the number of regular donors amid the cost-of-living crisis, dropping from 30% in the spring to 27% in the summer. Similarly, Donor Pulse, a quarterly donor research study, found that 55% of respondents said it was now harder (32%) or much harder (23%) to give to charity due to their financial situation.

Nevertheless, data from BrandVue, Savanta’s market intelligence platform, shows support for animal welfare charities has begun to pick back up since the second quarter.

Despite this, future consideration is at an all-time low since the pandemic, suggesting many don’t consider themselves in a position to support these charities anytime soon.

Top dogs

Of the animal welfare charities, the WWF has witnessed the biggest uplift in support (+1.2%) since the May summer boost, followed by charities for domestic pets such as Battersea Dogs & Cats Home and Cats Protection. However, support for the majority of these charities remained neutral, highlighting that more consideration is needed for the sub-sector to recover from what has been a tough financial period.

Recent support and future considerations

The age of respondents who have supported an animal welfare charity in the last twelve months follows an incremental pattern. Peaking with the 16-24 demographic (9.8%), followed by 25-34s (8.4%), 35-49s (7.1%), 50-59s (5.8%), and with 60–74-year-olds having the lowest score (4.6%).

However, older generations (50-74s) are more likely to consider supporting an animal welfare charity in the future compared to Gen Z (16 – 24s) who scored lowest (27.4% vs 22.5% respectively).

Similarly, ABC1 audiences in the London region had the highest support score, whereas C2DE audiences in the South, North, and Midlands surpassed Londoners in terms of future consideration. These middle- and lower-class audiences have been hit harder by recent socio-economic conditions, consequently having to reduce support and spend with their heads over their hearts. Still, this indicates that as the UK economy begins to recover, the sub-sector can expect to be supported by a wider pool of audiences.

Looking forward

The recent economic crises have led to a spike in pressure for numerous charities, a sector with resources already stretched having spent the last two years supporting communities throughout the pandemic, and now also having to find the funds to pay higher costs. This has also caused problems for regular C2DE donors, with inflation prices limiting the amount of money they can provide.

And the future is unclear. How many people will stop donating altogether as a result of the living crisis? According to the Donor Pulse report, only 17% of the respondents who feel worse off said they would stop donating. Instead, they would make fewer donations (24%) and be more selective (28%).

Consequently, animal welfare charities that focus now on retaining top-of-mind awareness and building stronger connections with these audiences can expect to see the biggest return as the climate returns to normality.

For more information about BrandVue coverage and deliverables, click here.

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