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Almost all households use a charity service

According to Populus research commissioned by the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF), the number of people using charities in the UK has increased over the past two years, with almost every household having used a charitable service.



In fact, 98% of households now report to have used at least one charitable service at some point and more than half the populations have turned to a charity for support or advice.

The figures, published earlier this month by the CAF, also show that young people and young families are now the groups most likely to have used a charity over the previous year, and that there has been a big increase in the number of single parents regularly using charities.

Populus’s survey of 2,054 UK adults (18+) reveals that the most common ways UK households have used charities are:

    • Buying from charity shops (88%)

    • Visiting a charity-run gallery, museum, garden or stately house (73%)

    • Visiting a church or religious institution of charitable status (51%)

    • Getting advice from a charity or information from a charity website (51%)

    • Attended a university (48%)

    • Adopted a pet (32%)
    • Attended a community, youth or voluntary group (such as the Scouts, Girl Guides or Age Concern), or attended an event hosted by them (47%)

The use of charities by young families has seen the biggest increase since the CAF last published a similar survey in 2014; 88% of the group said they have used a charitable service in the last year, up from 78% two years ago. They are also the group most likely to have received advice or information, medical care, or housing support from a charity in the last year.

Overall, women are more likely to use charitable services than men, with 86% having done so in the last year, compared to 75% of men.

Other key findings include:

    • Among single parent households, those who use charities at least monthly has risen from 29% in 2014 to 53% in 2016

    • Young families have used the most types of charities averaging 6.95, compared to the lowest average of 5.44 for older single-adult households and a national average of 6.07

    • In the last year, young families are the most likely household type to have received advice or information from a charity website (24% vs. 17% overall), received medical care (11% vs. 7% overall), or bought or rented through a charitable Housing Association (7% vs. 3% overall)

    • Young people are the most likely to have personally used a charity service in the last month (60% vs 50% overall) or in the last year (88% vs. 80% overall)

    • Single parent households are the most likely household type to report the most regular use of charities, with 53% using at least monthly (vs. 34% overall) and (vs. 34% overall) and 31% using at least one a week (vs. 14% overall)

Charities Aid Foundation Chief Executive, John low, believes the fact that almost every household in the UK has used a charity at some point shows their “vital and varied role in society”.

He says:

“Every day more people are walking into their local charity shops, encouraging their children and family members to get involved in community groups and visiting the beautiful galleries and gardens supported by charities in the UK.

“But charities are also increasingly serving the basic needs of a community. We are now seeing growing numbers of young people, young families and single parent families counting on charities for ongoing support, whether this is online advice or more sophisticated care services.

“All this goes to highlight the valuable role charities play in our lives, both enhancing our free time and stepping in to offer crucial support which may otherwise be difficult to access.

“Undoubtedly one of the great benefits of a vibrant charity sector is that people are coming together to support each other through the services they use and the causes they care about.”


The Charities Aid Foundation is one of the largest charitable foundations in Europe and serves individual charity donors, businesses and charities, helping them give to the causes they care about and providing financial services tailored to the charity sector. It works with around 250,000 donors, 3,000 companies – including 66% of the FTSE 100 – and 50,000 charities.

Here is a link to the first Charity Street report, published in 2014 in partnership with the Institute for Public Policy Research.

Visit our Polls page for full data tables

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