Have your say: Norfolk charities see a drop in donations

PUBLISHED: 12:02 27 November 2012

Picture of annual fun dog show at the Dogs Trust Snetterton Rehoming Centre.
Photo: Angela Sharpe
Copy: Kim Briscoe
For: EN
Archant pics © 2008
(01603) 772434

Picture of annual fun dog show at the Dogs Trust Snetterton Rehoming Centre. Photo: Angela Sharpe Copy: Kim Briscoe For: EN Archant pics © 2008 (01603) 772434

Archant © 2008

Three quarters of Norfolk’s charities have reported a drop in public donations - with some reporting a decrease of 25 per cent.

The Eastern Daily Press survey of tens of charities across Norfolk and Waveney discovered that many of our charities were struggling in the current economic climate.

Many blamed public expenditure and tough financial times for the downturn in donations.

However, some said this was off-set by an increase in the number of people shopping at their charity shops as members of the public try to save money elsewhere.

The EDP survey comes after the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) and National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) found that nationally, the number of individuals giving to charity fell in 2011/12 and amounts donated also declined, from £11 to £10 a month.

Polly Kane, fundraiser at The Benjamin Foundation, said the charity had seen its public donations fall by a quarter. To counterbalance the drop in donations, the charity is maximising joint working and sharing resources between its services and with external partner agencies.

It is also ensuring it is tuned in to all relevant opportunities to raise funds, particularly with local people, groups and businesses,

Ms Kane said: “It is a tough economic time for everyone, during which charitable giving is one of the first things to go as people understandably prioritise their hard-pressed income on supporting their families.

“We are constantly working to ensure people know about what we do and how we benefit communities, particularly as we are a charity based in and for the sole benefit of Norfolk people.

“And we will continue to be inventive, provide the best services to the most number of people that we can, and continue to be hugely grateful to our supporters, whether they are giving thousands, pennies or their time and efforts on our behalf.”

Jessica Rice, operations manager for Norfolk and Norwich Scope Association (Nansa), which supports Norfolk people of all ages with cerebral palsy and other disabilities, said: “Public donations have fallen but we’ve seen more customers in our six charity shops. The generosity is still there but the funds are less.

“People are shopping in secondhand shops more now - it’s the norm.”

George Rockingham, joint administrator for PACT Animal Sanctuary, based at Woodrising, near Hingham, said donations had dropped by 20pc in the last year and by 40pc in the last three years.

He said: “The only way we are surviving is our supporters realise the problem and are putting their hands deeper in their pockets. But the reason we are surviving is our five profitable charity shops.

“Takings are going up. Only by supporting our charity shops we can support the animals.

“In general donations have been coming in because our volunteers have realised the importance of what they are doing. They are working that much harder and therefore the income has gone up (in the shops). We are only as good as our volunteers, we cannot do it without them.

“We cannot go down. We have got to find a way to bolster our finances.”

The EDP spoke to 20 charities across Norfolk and Waveney - 15 of which said they had seen a fall in public donations. It was not all doom and gloom, however.

Nelson’s Journey, which a Norwich-based charity which supports bereaved young children, said it had seen a “very small” reduction in public donations - but had seen its community groups fundraising increase by three per cent.

Caister Volunteer Lifeboat Service, the East Coast Hospice and the Dogs Trust all said they were up on last year. And those which have high profile names attached to their cause also seem to be faring well.

East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (Each), which has the Duchess of Cambridge as its patron, said it had not seen a significant drop in donations and had seen an increase in legacy income.

Lindsey Newton, from the charity, said: “Clearly friends and family come first but Each is increasingly benefitting from supporters leaving us a legacy in their will, and this is perhaps a way that the public can still show support for their favourite charity without it impacting on their day to day finances.

“Increasingly people want to see how the money they have donated is spent. Our strength lies in the fact that we’re a local charity providing care and support to local life-threatened children and their families.”

Meanwhile, Sheringham-based charity Break, for which television presenter Jake Humphrey is the patron, said it had seen a dip in charitable giving, but a slight increase in donations through fundraising boosted by social media activities.

Liz Richards, from the charity, said: “We are fortunate to have Jake Humphrey as our patron who gives his time and support whenever he can.

“As well as raising the profile of Break and making it a lot easier for people to understand the depth and breadth of what we do, we are working hard to ensure that we can sustain and develop the services we provide to vulnerable children, young people and families across East Anglia. Break has also embraced the use of social media and this is proving to be invaluable. To survive we have to think outside the box and to do this we have to take risks.”

Have you reduced the amount you’ve given to charity this year?

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