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U.K. Charities Struggle as Cash Donations Decline

Categories : Cash and Crises, Cash is a social network, Cash is also a store of value
September 9, 2021
Tags : Charity, Coins, Donations, UK
The British public is sitting on piles of loose change worth an estimated £50 million. Along with the Charities Aid Foundation, UK Finance is asking people to consider donating some of this spare change to charity.
Guillaume Lepecq

Chair, CashEssentials

This post is also available in: Spanish

People are storing more coins

New research by UK Finance shows that due to Covid-19 lockdowns, people have held onto cash for three times longer than before, and when people receive coins, many are storing them at home rather than spending or donating them. This is particularly the case with lower denomination coins – more than half of those surveyed said they usually leave 1p, 2p, 5p, and 10p change at home.

55 percent of respondents stated they plan to store or keep 1p and 2p coins, and 52 percent will hoard 5p and 10p coins (Chart 1). This drops to 30 percent for £1 and £2 coins. However, the lower denomination coins are more important for charitable causes, with 37 percent of respondents indicating they intend to donate their 1p and 2p coins. Only 6 percent of respondents intended to do the same with £1 and £2 coins.

Graph 1. People who continue to store some or all of their change

Source: UK Finance (2021).


Charities are seeing a drop in donations.

Meanwhile, the Charities Aid Foundation found that over half the charities they spoke to last year had seen a drop in donations. At the same time, 39 percent of the charities they surveyed reported increased demand for help from those in need.

Donating accumulated loose change would provide a real benefit to charities. It would also reduce the need to mint new coins, which is better for the environment in both production and distribution.

Putting pennies in a charity box is a great way to help those in need

“The public has stored over £50 million of loose change over the course of the pandemic and as the UK is opening up post-lockdown every pound and penny that can be spared for worthy causes will make a tremendous difference,” said Eric Leenders, Managing Director of Personal Finance at UK Finance.

The UK Giving Covid-19 Special Report revealed that cash donations to charities, normally the country’s most popular way of giving, saw a substantial decline during 2020 and remain at very low levels compared to previous years.

“As charities struggle to resume fundraising, while continuing to work on the frontlines of the response to the pandemic, donating spare loose change would be a huge show of much-needed support at a critical time,” said Neil Heslop, Chief Executive of the Charities Aid Foundation.

The report demonstrates the durability of cash transactions and holdings; however, it points to the declining transactional value of cash, particularly coin. This raises the question of whether the denominational mix in circulation needs modernisation. Additionally, the indicated lag in inflows suggests that industry and policymakers may need to actively encourage greater recycling of hoarded cash to avoid significant wastage to the UK economy.


This post is also available in: Spanish