€3.1bn was donated by individuals in the first three quarters of 2016, according to a recent GfK analysis commissioned by the German Donation Council (German Spendenrat eV), with around 17.8m people giving to non-profit organisations and churches during this period.


According to Donation Year 2016: Trends & Prognosis, in the past decade, the German public has only beaten this amount once: in 2015, when the Nepal earthquake and the refugee crisis triggered higher levels of giving.


This year, the amount given in the first three quarters of 2016 was 9.9% down on the same period in 2015, with approximately 0.6m less people donating. The average donation also fell, from €35 to €32 per person, although those that did give, gave slightly more often, with the donation rate rising from 5.3 to 5.5 donations per person.


Sector-wise, the cultural and heritage conservation sector saw a slight increase (following a fall in 2015), and donations for environmental and nature conservation remained at 2015’s level. Humanitarian causes however saw the biggest drop in donations, with a significantly smaller share going to emergency and disaster relief. According to the study, only around one third of the donations lost to disaster relief was then directed to other causes.


While more money went to help those affected by the Nepal earthquake and the refugee crisis last year, around 2.9m people donated to help refugees in the first nine months of 2016, equating to 4% of the population aged 10-plus.


“During the refugee crisis, we have seen some unusual trends emerge,” said Astrid von Soosten, Deutscher Fundraising Verband board member and Head of Resource Development at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL). “When it comes to refugee giving, around 41% went to international organisations, with around 30% each to national and local charities. Usually, we would expect national charities to top the list for donations.”


The study also showed that donations to refugee-related causes tend to be higher than to other causes at €45 compared to €32. Donors to local refugee projects tend to be younger, with an average of 55 compared to the average donor age of 62 years.


Overall, around €5bn is expected to be donated during the whole 2016 financial year.


Daniela Felser, managing director of the German Donation Council said:

"Even if the record level of 2015 is not reached, we are pleased that the long-term positive development of the donation continues. The reason for the slight decline seen in donor income is also positive in this case as so far we have not had any major, media-affecting catastrophes this year."


The study was part of GfK CharityScope, which is based on continuous written surveys in a representative sample of 10,000 panel participants.