Why do different surveys of giving report different findings?

Document type
Corporate author(s)
National Council for Voluntary Organisations (Great Britain); Charities Aid Foundation
Date of publication
1 March 2010
Social Policy
Social welfare
Material type

Download (123KB )

This briefing paper seeks to address why different surveys of charitable donations yield different results. The paper finds that research into charitable giving is well established, however knowing how to interpret and compare results from different sources is not well understood. Estimates of charitable giving can vary widely – using three different methods produces results ranging from £3.4 billion to £9.5 billion in a year. In order to begin to rectify these discrepancies the paper suggests that by triangulating the results, a sense of where the differences lie may begin to emerge. Further, surveys that use a consistent methodology over time can provide rich information on trends in giving, documenting changes in who gives to which causes.

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