Cost of living crisis puts £3.2 billion of potential charity donations under threat

New poll data compiled on behalf of Big Give, the UK’s largest match funding organisation, has identified that due to the cost of living crisis, 25% of the public will give less to charity this Christmas, which if spread across a year represents a staggering £3.2 billion. Last year, the UK public donated an estimated £12.7 billion to charity, according to Charities Aid Foundation*.

In addition, a significant number (20%) of the respondents polled by Savanta** are not planning to donate to charity at all in December. Of those who plan to give less, a higher percentage are females (29%) than males (20%). In terms of regional variance, a higher proportion of people in the East of the UK, followed by the people in the East Midlands, North West and Wales, expect to donate less.

To help tackle this funding crisis, Big Give’s annual week-long Christmas Challenge campaign kicks off today. It is the UK’s biggest match fund campaign and is looking to raise over £30 million for the 1,075 charities participating. More than half of the people polled by Savanta said they would be more likely to donate to charity if their donation was matched. As a result, Big Give has secured £15 million of match funds from a mixture of philanthropists, foundations and companies.

The Christmas Challenge runs from noon on 28 November to noon on 5 December 2023 at This year, the campaign is being backed by celebrities such as Jenny Aguttar, Alan Carr, Joanna Lumley, Jason Watkins, Megan McCubbin, Jeremy Irons, Kate Humble, Larry Lamb and Emilia Fox.

Last year, the Christmas Challenge had a major positive impact on the charities participating as it raised £28.6m for 1,021 charities and 79,000 members of the public donated. 70% of the charities that took part met or exceeded their fundraising target. The following examples highlight the impact the campaign funds made on participating charities in 2022:

  • Made in Hackney raised £25,000, which enabled them to cook and deliver 10,000 meals over the winter to 200 members of its local community. It also delivered an extra 100 care packages over the Christmas period.
  • Wellbeing of Women raised over £25,000, which is helping to improve pregnancy support and care for vulnerable and disadvantaged women, those experiencing homelessness, and women affected by trauma, including domestic abuse and sexual assault. Specifically, the money raised has been put towards two midwife research projects that will help develop interventions and processes to improve pregnancy care for vulnerable groups.
  • Dogs Trust – raised £49,000, which covered almost all the expenditure of running their vital Christmas service for December 2022. For many, Christmas is a time of festivities and family. However, for people experiencing domestic abuse, it can be an extremely tough time. Funding helped them continue supporting people and their dogs at a crucial time.
  • Hope into Action UK – raised £108,000 to support the opening of 20 new homes, with £5,000 per home. So far, they have opened 6 new homes and are working on opening 24 new ones by the end of the 2023/24 financial year. The 24 homes are at various levels of opening.

The Christmas Challenge is Big Give’s annual flagship event and accounts for around three-quarters of the £247m raised by Big Give since 2008. Almost half of the money raised by the Christmas Challenge in 2010–2022 was for small charities with an annual income of less than £1 million.

The funds raised via the Big Give will make a huge difference to charities facing challenges from the cost of living crisis and increased demand for their services. The Christmas Challenge doubles the public’s donations and doubles their impact as it matches their donations with Big Give ‘Champions’, i.e. philanthropists, foundations and companies. This year’s Champions include The Reed Foundation, Julia & Hans Rausing Trust, The Childhood Trust, Candis, EQ Foundation, The Hospital Saturday Fund, Coles-Medlock Foundation, Monday Charitable Trust and many more.

Alex Day, Managing Director of Big Give, said: “With over £3 billion in public donations at risk due to the cost of living crisis, we are encouraging people to give what they can, big or small, and Big Give’s Christmas Challenge will double that generous donation. Charities play a vital role in the social fabric of the UK, providing vital and life-changing services. They are in desperate need of support, and the generosity of the public alongside our match funders really does make a major difference. We appreciate it is tough times for everyone, and not everyone will be in a position to give. Those who can’t donate can help raise awareness of the campaign so we can double the difference this Christmas.”

* Charities Aid Foundation 2023 UK Giving Report

** Savanta interviewed 2,235 UK adults aged 18+ online between 11th – 13th November 2023. The data is available on request.

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