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Charity donations continued to climb in 2019

A December 2019 Caritas campaign in Bern to bring attention to poverty in Switzerland. Keystone / Peter Schneider

Swiss people donated almost CHF2 billion to charities in 2019, according to statistics published on Monday. In the pandemic year of 2020, generosity has not hugely dipped.

This content was published on November 30, 2020 - 15:33
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The year 2019 was the best one since records began (in 2003), with the CHF1.91 billion ($2.1 billion) donated marking a 5% increase on the year before, said Zewo, a foundation that audits non-profit groups soliciting donations from the public.

Some 84% of all Swiss households said they made some form of donation during the year, with each household giving an average of CHF300 to four different charities.

The most popular options were organisations supporting handicapped people and those supporting children and youth, Zewo wrote. Environmental NGOs like the World Wildlife Fund and Pro Natura also saw donations climb.

As for individual profiles, the report also showed a generational shift: for the first time, donors were more common in the 35-54 age group than in the 55-99 age group.

In general, people younger than 45 donate the least, Zewo said. A peak of generosity is reached just before retirement. From the age of 70, contributions dip again.

Caritas call

Also on Monday, Swiss Catholic charity Caritas called for more state help for those living on or under the poverty line in Switzerland. As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, poverty is becoming an ever bigger problem in the country, the organisation said.

According to Caritas, some 660,000 people in Switzerland were affected by poverty before the pandemic. Although they don’t have definite numbers about how much worse this has become, the group did say that the number of calls they receive for advice doubled to 10,000 this year.

Due to “gaps” in the social assistance net, Caritas thus called for more measures to help those most affected by the pandemic. Among their proposals are to raise the amount of salary paid to those on “short-hours unemployment” to 100% rather than 80% for those in need, and greater subsidies for paying mandatory health insurance.

The group has also called for a clear separation between social assistance applications and citizenship status. “Anybody living and working in Switzerland, who finds him or herself in financial distress should be able to benefit from state assistance,” it wrote.

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No pandemic collapse

Although final figures and trends for 2020 are not yet available, the organisation said that a survey they carried out has shown a perhaps surprising stability in donations during the health crisis.

Three out of 10 charity organisations said that they have received fewer donations from members of the public during the pandemic, while five out of 10 said things stayed the same, and two of 10 recorded more donations.

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