Will the ‘Big Society’ agenda be split down party lines?

  • Public support for specific charitable 'causes' varies significantly, depending on political outlook
  • Overall level of public giving/volunteering is 'party neutral'
  • "Interesting to see how differences in different parties' supporter's specific charitable sympathies might sway coalition policy, as the Big Society unfolds," nfpSynergy comments

Support for specific charitable causes varies with political outlook, according to  out today  – raising the stakes for the third sector as the Lib Dem-Conservative coalition starts work on its Big Society agenda.

Leading not-for-profit sector research consultancy nfpSynergy’s Charity Awareness Monitor regularly 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 support for specific causes, and how this might be linked to their political allegiances.

Whilst overall levels of public donating/volunteering are ‘party-neutral’ (slides 2-3), Lib Dem supporters are significantly more likely to donate to children/youth issues, animals and the environment (but to give well below average support to hospices and charities for older people); Tory supporters are more likely to give to hospices (but to give well below average support to children/youth, social welfare and homelessness charities); and Labour supporters are more likely to give to services for older people, plus health/disability issues (slides 4-5).

nfpSynergy researcher, Rebecca Molyneux, said:

“We already know that being engaged politically is linked with greater charitable involvement. However, after this new data, it will be interesting to see how differences in different parties’ supporters’ specific charitable sympathies might affect actual party policy - notably within the Lib Dem-Conservative coalition itself, as its Big Society programme unfolds

Many charities – not least those serving the young or the old - will be especially anxious to see which coalition party has the greatest say or sway over which specific areas of need receive greatest public funding, or indeed third sector support.

The forthcoming party conference season could well prove the ideal opportunity for supporters – not to mention charities - to press individual parties over guaranteeing and securing policy commitments to the specific causes they most care about. This may well engender some especially colourful tensions between coalition ‘partners’.”

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Big Society Party Split charts

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