More than half the population (51%) living in the East of England have used a charity service in the past month, the highest level in the country.
And more than three-quarters of people have used a service in the past year – yet households spend as much on cheese as they do on charity.
The figures have been released by the Charities Aid Foundation as part of a national campaign to raise awareness of the low levels of charitable giving in the UK.
CAF is pressing the government to take a lead in encouraging giving by asking ministers to pledge to donate a percentage of their salary to charity.
The survey asked whether people had used services such as buying items from a charity shop, visiting a stately home or garden owned by a charity, or receiving advice, or information from a charity website.
CAF also found that 68 per cent of people in the region believe that the work charities do is vital to create a good and fair society.
Yet UK families give just 0.4 per cent of household spending to charitable causes – the same amount as is spent on cheese.
This works out at £1.80 per week for the average household whose total weekly spend is £471.
The charity’s head of policy Hannah Terrey said: “It’s a common misconception that it is “other people” who benefit from charitable services. In East of England the majority are using charity services but, despite, this giving makes up a very small percentage of household spending and we’d like to see this increase.”
“We urge ministers to act quickly to start a new drive to encourage greater giving across the country. A good first step would be for ministers to pledge a percentage of their salary to charitable causes.”
Nearly three-quarters (74 per cent) of people in the East of England think that people don’t give more to charity because they cannot afford to.
CAF’s recommendations for increasing levels of giving include improvements to tax effective ways of giving such as payroll giving and Gift Aid which mean more money goes to charity without it costing the giver more.
CAF has outlined four steps to help enhance giving levels:
l The government, business and charity leaders should lead by example and help to build a stronger culture of giving.
l The government should make it easier for people to give tax-effectively. For example Gift Aid and payroll giving need to be widely available and work effectively with mobile and online giving platforms.
l The government, charities and business should work together to develop more and better partnerships and improve the way companies report about their corporate responsibility programmes.
l The government should explore ways to encourage individuals and companies to use their assets for social impact through investment as well as giving. This would enable charitable organisations to access much needed capital.