Charities facing bleak future

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Charities face a long-term decline in the number of people who make donations, according to new research.

The number of households giving to charity has fallen by nearly 5 per cent over the last 20 years.

The independent Institute for Fiscal Studies looked at the donations of more than 150,000 households compared with figures available for 1974. And although the average gift has increased so that total donations have risen in real terms, the biggest decline was from younger households - boding badly for the future. Around 30 per cent of households donated to charity in any fortnight, giving an average pounds 4 - down from 34 per cent in 1974. However, the research found no evidence that the National Lottery has had a significant effect on household giving.

The Charities Aid Foundation said one positive finding was that the presence of children and the proportion of women in the household increased the likelihood of giving.

The voluntary income of the top 500 charities fell in real terms in 1995/6 by 1 per cent to pounds 3,532m.

The State of Donation: Household Gifts to Charity 1974-1996; from IFS, 7 Ridgmount Street, London WC1E 7AE; pounds 10.

Louise Jury