Charities shaken as lack of trust one reason for 10% fall in number of donors
Waning public support, but Northern Ireland is most generous part of UK
Fewer people in Northern Ireland are donating to charity, with lack of trust one of the key factors behind the fall in contributions.
The number of people giving to good causes has dropped by around 10% in recent years.
Possible reasons include the recession and a decline in the public's trust in charities.
Yet the number of donations in Northern Ireland is comparatively higher than elsewhere in the UK, a report found.
A study by the Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action (NICVA) published yesterday examines the state of the charity sector.
It found charities here received almost £590m in funding during the 2013/14 financial year.
Of this, around £52.8m came from public donations.
The rest included funding from non-departmental public bodies (£286m) and central government (£150m).
Lottery grants, European funding and grant-making trusts accounted for the rest of the total.
The average person in Northern Ireland donates about £17.50 to charitable causes; however, the number of donations is falling.
The survey found 57% of respondents had donated money to charitable causes in a four-week period - down from 66% in 2011.
This equates to approximately 835,835 people aged 16 or over in Northern Ireland. At a UK-wide level, 44% of people were reported to give money to charity in a typical month.
The survey also examined donations over a 12-month period.
Some 81% of respondents donated money to charity over a year - down 9% on the comparative figure for 2010.
However, it is again considerably higher than UK-wide levels, which stand at 70%.
The findings are based on a survey of 1,000 people conducted last September and October.
The NICVA report stated: "Possible reasons for a decline in charitable giving since 2011 may be linked to Northern Ireland's slow recovery from the economic recession and the associated financial uncertainty experienced in many households.
"A decline in the public's trust in charities may be another factor impacting on donation levels."
It cites research conducted by consultancy firm nfpSynergy in 2015 which found the level of trust in charities had fallen by 18% since May 2013 and 22% since January 2010.
Charities are now ranked 12th in the list of most trusted organisations and institutions in the UK - below the BBC, the Royal Family and even supermarkets.
The survey suggests health-based charities (42%) are most popular for Northern Ireland donors, with hospitals and hospices second (16%). Children and young people ranked third (15%).
According to NICVA, many charities are less optimistic than they were four years ago.
The main setbacks expected over the next 12 months include public sector cuts, lack of diversification of income and competition from other organisations.
The survey found those aged between 16 and 24 are least likely to donate to charity in Northern Ireland.
However, donations from this group have tripled since 2011.
Those aged between 55 and 64 are the most generous, donating around £28.50 over the four-week period which the survey examined.