Italians made fewer and smaller donations to NGOs in 2021 compared to 2020, a new report by the Italian Institute of Donation (IID) shows.
But leaders at the organisation say that the country’s nonprofits “are very resistant” to such changes, and that the long-term trends are positive, in particular as NGOs strengthen their partnerships with the for-profit sector.
The Noi Doniamo (English: We Donate) report cites data from national statistics agency Istat, which shows that the number of people giving money to charities dropped to 12% in 2021. The figure had previously risen from 13% in 2019 to 14% in 2020. Rates of giving were higher in the richer Northern regions of the country than in the less privileged South.
The drop in donations to NGOs was partly mitigated by an increase in so-called ‘informal giving’ – donations made for example during a collection at a church service, or directly to a person in need, for example because of homelessness.
In total, 36% of Italians made an informal donation in 2021, up from 33% in 2020, according to data in the report from fundraising agency BVA Doxa. The average informal gift was €32 (€36 in 2020), according to BVA Doxa, compared to €61 (€80 in 2020) for formal donations, BVA Doxa says.
Stefano Tabò, president of the IID, said the decrease in donations in 2021 was expected, following the solidarity and increased generosity experienced during an extraordinary 2020. He said it was clear that third sector organisations “are very resistant” and that they are well-positioned to continue “their role of calling citizens to get involved”, and continue the positive, long-term trend for donations in Italy.
Cinzia Di Stasio, secretary general of the IID, highlighted the fact that 33% of nonprofits, up from 20% in 2020, had increased their total income during the year. She said: “This is linked to the number of NGOs improving their corporate fundraising during the year – the number of NGOs getting increasing donations from business went from 6% in 2020 to 26% in 2021, demonstrating that collaboration and support from the for-profit sector is increasingly important for the third sector.”
The report also shows that medical and scientific research remains, by a considerable margin, the most popular cause for Italian donors. Nearly half (48%) said these organisations are the ones they would be most likely to donate to, with the next most popular being: poverty in Italy (16%); animal rights and welfare (12%), emergency humanitarian aid (11%), and global poverty (9%).
Volunteering is also in decline, with participation dropping from 10% in 2019 and 9% in 2020 to 7% in 2021, according to Istat figures used in the report. The number of blood and organ donations both increased between 2020 and 2021, but remain below 2019 levels.
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