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Research shows donations to the homeless reach a new low

Find out about social enterprise Beam’s 131,370 Reasons to Act Now campaign to help support individuals and families experiencing homelessness to find safe and stable homes.

Only 4% of Brits gave money to the homeless in 2023, according to the latest research by Beam, the social impact start-up supporting homeless people and refugees.

Rates of giving have also declined year on year since 2021. 11% of people reported donating to the homeless in 2021, falling to 9% in 2022. Average giving in December has fallen from £9 in 2022 and £7 in 2021 to a new low of £3, month to date this December.

These falling donation rates come at a time when the latest government figures state 131,370 children are now legally homeless, living in emergency accommodation due to the lack of social housing and the deepening cost of living crisis. 

According to a survey of 2,000 adults in the UK conducted during the first week of December 2023, the reasons for declining giving were: not carrying cash (34%), the cost of living crisis (31%), unsure of what the money will be spent on (19%), don’t know enough about the individual (11%), and other causes being a priority (5%).

The new data highlights the growing impact of a cashless society on giving. The survey also highlights the misconception that homeless people are mostly rough sleeping or begging, when over 80% of homeless people are off the streets in emergency accommodation. 

However, there may be signs of a way out. The average one-off donation to people using Beam’s crowdfunding platform is £31.09*, highlighting that online giving, personal stories, direct connections and transparency on where donations go can significantly increase the size of donations. 

Beam is the world’s first crowdfunding platform for homeless people and others in need. Beam has been able to help people like Regina from South London, who was introduced to the social impact start-up after almost four years of homelessness. She had to flee her home from an emotionally abusive domestic situation for the safety of herself and her daughter. To afford the hostel that the council offered her, Regina had to quit her estate agent job and go onto Universal Credit. Through Beam, the public funded Regina’s employment training and nursery bills so that her daughter could receive support while she levelled up her career.

With Christmas around the corner, Beam has launched its “131,370 Reasons to Act Now” campaign. There are currently 131,370 homeless children in emergency accommodation in the UK. Beam is urgently raising £131,370 to support the individuals and families working with Beam to find a safe and stable home so that next Christmas their situation will be brighter.

Alex Stephany, Founder and CEO of Beam:

“This winter, we face a deepening homelessness emergency. Beam’s latest research highlights the UK public still holds some outdated beliefs that directly impact people’s willingness to support homeless people. Beam’s online donation platform tears down barriers like lack of cash and worries about where the money will be spent. At the heart of this new model is technology that can directly connect people who care about this issue with those in need.

Homelessness is one of the biggest social problems of our time and the need has never been greater. By backing someone on Beam, people can give transparently as each homeless person has their own budget with costs broken down to the nearest pound. Efficiently – as 100% of donations go towards the campaign’s cost. And responsibly – as Beam holds all donations securely on behalf of the people we help.”

Regina comments:

“Homelessness isn’t a choice anyone makes unless they are out of options. People not only need your help, but your kindness. I got 1-1 support from a Beam caseworker and financial support from Beam’s community. And I also heard directly from the donors who left messages of encouragement – those messages were lights of hope in the darkness. I will never forget one I got from a little girl who wanted to use her Christmas money to help the homeless. Those messages kept me going. This Christmas you could help someone like me and your money and kindness could mean that next Christmas they too are out of homelessness and on to a brighter future.”

About Beam

Beam is a start-up supporting homeless people and refugees into stable jobs and homes for the long-term. Its unique crowdfunding platform helps disadvantaged communities to raise funding for job training, work tools, rental deposits and other financial costs related to finding a job or home. Over 200,000 donations and 60,000 messages of support have flowed through Beam’s platform to homeless people and others in need of support.

Donations come from the public and companies, who can view transparent budgets of financial barriers required to support each person. By partnering with the government to fund its overheads, Beam also has a unique 100% giving model, allowing every penny to fund financial barriers for some of the UK’s most vulnerable people this Christmas. Since launching in 2017, Beam has supported more than 2,500 homeless people and refugees into stable jobs and homes.