"Unsung heroes of social capital”: Charity donors give more than mere money

  • “Of course volunteers are active citizens - but so are donors,” insists Saxton
  • “Fundraisers should use indicators of social capital to identify likely donors”, urges Saxton
  • People who donate to charity are also significantly more likely than non-donors to boost “social capital” through greater involvement with local communities - according to new research

Leading not for profit sector think tank and research consultancy nfpSynergy’s Charity Awareness Monitor surveys a representative sample of 1000 16+ year olds throughout mainland Britain every year, asking them a range of charity-related questions, including gauging their involvement in activities that help build so-called “social capital”.

  • 2 in 5 (40%) donors said they were involved with local clubs, societies or associations, compared with scarce a quarter (23%) of non-donors.
  • Almost 1 in 6 (16%) donors said they helped out with activities at their local school, compared with just 1 in 10 (10%) non-donors.
  • Almost a half (47%) of donors said they were on first-name terms with immediate neighbours, compared with a mere third (35%) of non-donors.
  • Almost 3 in 5 (59%) donors said they’d invited friends round to socialise at least twice in the last three months, compared with under half (45%) of non-donors.
  • Just under a half (48%) of donors said they did a regular sport or fitness activity at least once a week, compared with just over a third (36%) of non-donors.
  • 22% of donors claimed they worshipped regularly, compared with 13% of non-donors.
  • Over two thirds (68%) of donors said they would be very likely to vote if there was a general election tomorrow, compared with a mere half (52%) of non-donors.
  • Conversely, non-donors (40%) were slightly more likely than donors (36%) to watch at least three hours of TV a day.

The research also found those polled fairly equally split when asked which, of giving time or giving money, they thought would make the bigger impact to a charity – 19% saying money, 21% saying time, 34% saying both and 26% feeling unsure.

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

“Few people would deny that volunteers, and increased levels of volunteering, help boost social capital, but our new data also highlights the significant and largely unsung role donors already play in achieving this end, through all their additional activities. Moreover, the findings also provide a potentially lucrative tool enabling fundraisers to identify likely donors based on indicators of social capital. Doubtless not uncontroversially, since donors are significantly more likely to vote in elections, fundraisers’ databases may even become rather attractive to political parties!”

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MEDIA COMMENT: To interview nfpSynergy’s Joe Saxton about these findings, please contact him direct on 07976 329 212 or joe.saxton@nfpsynergy.net; or, alternatively, contact Adrian Gillan (0774 086 7215; E: adrian@gillanmedia.com) for further assistance.

Note to editors:

nfpSynergy (www.nfpsynergy.net) is the UK’s only research consultancy dedicated to the charity sector and not-for-profit issues. It provides ideas, insights and information to help voluntary and community organisations thrive in an ever-changing world. Regularly harvesting the social and charity-related views of public and parliament, media and business - not to mention not for profit organisations themselves - nfpSynergy has a vast and ever-growing knowledge pool from which to extract and deliver insights.

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Charity Awareness Monitor Results Engagement 6 of 6 November 2008

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