Increases in food, fuel and heating has prompted many of us to spend less on non-essential items, cut back on non-essential journeys and reduce our usage of gas and electricity. Should we consider donating to charity as non-essential spending?
I am hearing increasing concerns from employers who are questioning if now is the right time to be asking staff to donate to charity – is asking people to do more when they have less insensitive? However, this is exactly what we are asking of our charity sector – do more things with less money.
The current cost of living crisis has increased charities running costs and eroded the value of donations. This is on the back of Covid 19, which saw 4.9m less people giving to charity in 2021 than 2020. A recent CAF survey identified that 35% of charitable organisations are struggling to survive altogether. Just imagine a world with 35% less charities? Charities deliver key front-line work in our society – air ambulances, social housing solutions, citizens advice services, lifeboat and coastguard provision, and community transport are some examples of services that simply cannot stop.
This crisis is also having a greater impact on those most vulnerable; the very people that our charities are trying to support.
- People with cancer or at end of life are more likely to be under financial strain because of loss of wages, appointment travelling and care costs.
- A shocking survey has revealed that well over a quarter (29%) of people with a cancer diagnosis are more worried about the cost-of-living crisis than their cancer. Over three quarters (77%) feel that the crisis is affecting their chances of successful treatment for cancer.
- The crisis could lead to more cancer patients relapsing and hit survival rates A study of 555 Canadian patients with head and neck cancer found those on lower incomes were twice as likely to relapse. There was also a trend towards worse overall survival rates.
And it is not just cancer patients that face additional pressures from the crisis:
- The average person’s energy bill doubles when diagnosed with a terminal illness.
- There are about 5,000 people with kidney failure on dialysis in the UK receiving dialysis treatment at home. Home haemodialysis costs people between £590 and £1,450 annually (before the price increases) and data from the UK Kidney Association shows that almost 1 in 4 (24%) of people facing these costs are in the most deprived group economically.
- From previous economic downtimes we also know that a squeeze on living standards and economic recessions cause an increase in mental health conditions and sadly suicide.
For some of us this is not a crisis but a potential life limiting catastrophe.
Heating, eating, or surviving?
I am not comfortable to just observe this terrible situation for our charities and the people they care for. As a nation we must include charitable giving as an essential thing we do, it has always been part of the fabric of our society that we do our bit to help those less fortunate than ourselves.
It might not be the time for the big gestures at the moment but, if we can do something, even something small, we must do it.
Employers please do not stop asking your staff to support charities; this is the most crucial time to ask them. Providing multiple ways for staff to help the most vulnerable will cast the net of support as wide as possible – offer time off for volunteering, set up collection points for food or clothing banks and providing ways for them to donate money tax efficiently are some examples. Every single penny counts, so if you can afford to donate a few pennies, then please do as small change soon turns to significant amounts when we all do the same. If all UK employees donated 50p from their pay each month, collectively they would give £197m a year. Together we can make an enormous difference.
Small change = BIG change.
Kate Frost. CEO Pennies from Heaven