CHARITIES are feeling the pinch after a 20% drop in donations in the past year, according to a survey.

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Figures compiled by the Charities Aid Foundation and the National Council for Voluntary Organisations show total donations fell from £11billion to £9.3bn in 2011/12.

The RSPCA, which has a centre in Martlesham, stated that despite efficiency savings, the charity’s running costs have risen from £111million to £120m over the past five years.

Chief executive Gavin Grant said the charity is being stretched to breaking point at a time when public generosity is under pressure.

“The recession may be over but these are very dark times for its silent victims - the animals,” he added. “This is a real crisis and despite the immense dedication of our staff and volunteers, we are struggling to cope.

“We really need our country’s animal lovers to step forward and open their hearts, homes and purses in these extremely difficult times.”

The figures showed that the number of people donating fell, as did the amounts they gave, from an average of £11 to £10 a month.

Wendy Herber, interim chief executive of the Suffolk Association of Voluntary Organisations, said: “Charities are facing more pressures from all sides so a reduction in donations is a fair picture reflected here in Suffolk.

“Where charities had reserves they are not getting the interest that would have given them a bit of a buffer and grant funding is much harder to get hold of.

“Charities are losing staff all the time so there’s less people to actually go out looking for money. It’s a real catch 22 situation.”

But some charities in Suffolk are bucking the national trend.

Daphne Savage, chief executive of Age UK Suffolk, said the organisation has not seen a drop in donations so far.

“We think that is because we are a local Suffolk charity and local people are aware of what we do and of the fact that we use everything we receive here in our county to support frailer and poorer older people and their family carers,” she added.

“Also many regular donors give to us every year as they know that we use the money to help people and not in building large reserves.

“What is harder for us is trying to boost donations further to meet the increasing needs of an expanding older population and that will be an ongoing challenge for the next 10 to 20 years.”

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