Almost half of all adults do charity work

Almost half of all adults do charity work


Alison Chiesa

The Herald




People in Scotland are giving more money and more time to charities, despite recent scandals, research has suggested.


Public confidence in charities fell two years ago, after it was revealed that only a fraction of donations raised by Breast Cancer Research (Scotland) and Moonbeams went to good causes.


But the research, compiled before the unprecedented public response to the tsunami disaster, shows that a typical household in Scotland donates £7.40 per week. This works out at 2% of its income compared with 1.5% in 2000, equivalent to £16m per week across Scotland.


The figures from the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) were published yesterday to coincide with the opening of the ‘Gathering’, Scotland’s large voluntary sector fair, which this took place this week in Glasgow.


Martin Sime, chief executive of the SCVO, said: ‘Public confidence in charities is still thriving in a society that wants to be involved in charitable giving. We were concerned that the stories about the mismanaged charities was going to dent this. We did see that happening, to an extent, but it looks like the confidence is still there.’


The study also revealed that 43% of adults in Scotland do charity work, giving nine million hours a month. This compares with 37% in 2003 and 38% the previous year.


Ailsa Kennedy, 20, a psychology student, who has volunteered at the Oxfam Bookshop in the west end of Glasgow for the past year, was unsurprised at the rise in volunteers. She said: ‘It is so rewarding and I really feel part of a community. As a student, I don’t have much money to give to charity, so I choose to give my time. I am passionate about global issues and I know this is one way I can make a difference.’


Katie McDonald, 24, a zoology graduate who volunteers in the same outlet – one of the most successful Oxfam shops in the UK – agreed: ‘Volunteering is fun and it is great to know that I am doing something useful for a good cause.’


Ms McDonald, who is working at the shop while she looks for employment in her field of study, said: ‘I also think working in the bookshop will strengthen my CV. It will show that I am actively doing something positive.’


Voluntary organisations are having increasing success in winning public sector funding. According to the findings, the average size of public sector contracts rose by 16% in the last year. Scottish Executive funding to the sector also rose 8% from 2003 to 2004, while there was a rise of 10% in local authority income over the same period.


Mr Sime added: ‘More government support is yet another vote of confidence. We have long argued that voluntary organisations are a dynamic force for good and these survey findings demonstrate that the sector is having a growing impact across every area of public life.


‘It is vital we capitalise on these trends and take advantage of the new charity law and support framework now being put in place.


There are 119,000 paid staff jobs in the voluntary sector, an increase of 12,000 since 2002, the study found. Last year, the 50,000 voluntary organisations across Scotland combined to generate an income of £2.6bn to the annual economy.


Mr Sime argued this showed the important role the voluntary sector plays in the economy. “At a time when people are looking at a slowdown in the economy, the voluntary sector is on the up. A lot of government agencies are outsourcing work to the sector because it is very active at tendering, as well as having the expertise and facilities local authorities are looking for.’


Source: The Herald