Letter: Diana and charities

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THE DEATH of Diana, Princess of Wales, has undoubtedly raised awareness of the importance of donating to charity, but the overall impact on the level of public donations has not been as dramatic as supposed ("Diana's death aids charities", 11 March).

Research by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations and NOP indicates that around three million people gave to charity in response to the Princess's death, and that about a third of these individuals were encouraged to give solely because of the tragedy. Interestingly, these last appear to come from social classes C, D and E, and as such are atypical of those who give to charity on a regular basis.

It could, therefore, be argued that the Princess's death has encouraged a whole new group of people to give to charity. But even if this is the case, the long-term impact on the level of charitable donations is unlikely to be significant.

The public has donated around pounds 13m to the Diana fund to date. While this is a substantial figure, it represents only slightly more than the public donates to the voluntary sector each day of the year. In reality, donations to charity fell by 20 per cent between 1993 and 1996, from pounds 5.3bn to pounds 4.58bn.

It is therefore encouraging that the trustees are committed to consulting with charities and voluntary organisations to ensure that, in the longer term, as wide a range of causes as possible are able to benefit from the new fund. The charity sector has had a difficult time of it in recent years, and any new funds that can be generated will be very welcome.

STUART ETHERINGTON

Chief Executive

The National Council for Voluntary Organisations

London N1

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