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Sports charities fail to inspire public generosity despite Olympic success

Medical and poverty charities highest on list of public concerns

  • If they were given £10,000 and told to spend half of it on a charity, just 2% of people would give it to an arts or sports charity (chart 1)
  • Only 3% of people would give it to an overseas or a children’s charity
  • More than half (53%) would give it to a medical charity (chart 1)
  • Poverty (15%), animal (9%) and environment charities (6%) were in the top four, but lagged behind (chart 1)
  • People were also asked where they would advise the government to spend £10 million set aside for charities. Just 1% said it should go to an arts charity, while 2% said a sports, children’s or overseas charity (chart 2)
  • Only 1% would say to spend it on arts charities, while almost no one chose military, disability or elderly charities (chart 2)
  • Medical charities were again the big winner on 52%, with poverty charities on 27% (chart 2)

Just one in 50 people would give a large cash gift to arts and sports charities, new research suggests. Most people would also snub children’s charities in favour of medical and poverty charities if they received some money to donate and would advise the government to do the same.

The research, published by consultancy nfpSynergy, saw 1,000 people asked who they would donate to if they received £10,000 from a relative and had to give half to charity. Just 2% of people would give it to an arts or sports charity, with overseas and children’s charities only slightly more likely to receive the windfall on 3%. Medical charities look set to gain the most with more than half of people choosing them. Poverty charities were selected by one in seven.

The nationally representative poll also asked people where they would advise the government to spend a pot of £10m set aside for good causes. Only 2% of people chose children’s and sports charities, while arts charities polled just 1% of the vote. No one selected military charities.

Over half of people would tell the government to spend it on medical charities, while a quarter would direct the funds towards poverty.

nfpSynergy’s Driver of Ideas, Joe Saxton, said:

“This research tells us how inherently appealing causes are at a personal level in theory, but not what people do in practice. This difference is important. For example, despite their lowly standing in this survey, overseas, children’s and military charities do raise large amounts of money. They have managed to overcome public ‘indifference’, mainly through their great communications, fundraising and marketing.

It’s interesting to see that despite the recent Olympics, sports charities have joined the arts in failing to win over the public. The role models are there in overseas and children’s charities though and this should be a big wake-up call to sports and the arts. It’s up to them to make a success of overcoming public attitudes and increasing donations.”

Please see the attached slides for details.


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