Charity begins at home” a phrase that can be traced back to the 12th century; today however, it appears that the UK populous is divided when it comes to the issue of whether priority should be given to supporting those in the UK or those overseas in developing countries.

A recent study by NEMS Market Research found that almost half (46%) were in agreement that it was more important to give to charities supporting those within UK, while a similar proportion (48%) was in support of a more balanced approach ; the remaining 8% consisted of those unsure or of the opinion that support should be focused on those in the developing world (both recording 4%).

Looking more closely at those prioritising the needs of the UK populous brings to light some interesting demographic and regional divides.

For example, there is a notable juxtaposition of opinion between the youngest and oldest age groups (16-24 year olds and 65+ year olds, respectively); the younger sample displayed a more universal opinion about where charity should be focused while the oldest age group was of the opinion that domestic charitable causes should be a priority – almost having the inverse opinion of the youngest age group.

A similar contrast of opinion can be seen between the higher and lower socio-economic groupings, with those from the higher social grades being more open to supporting overseas development through charitable causes. Additionally, those from the North of England displayed the strongest opinion that charity should begin at home, with 64% stating this viewpoint, compared to 35% recorded in the London area.

While there appears to be a link between increasing age and increasing likelihood of prioritising UK interests over foreign causes; it is uncertain whether this is an opinion which is seen to change over time (i.e. as you get older your outlook towards charity shifts focus), or is a sign that younger generations are slowly beginning to charity in different (more balanced) way.

For more information go to data tables in our public opinion online data sets or contact Paul Murray .