As Christmas approaches and Britons are being asked to dig deep, a new study has shown that more people than last year are giving to charities, with medical research the most popular cause.

But the average donation has fallen slightly, as economic austerity bites.

More than 38 percent of the giving population (11.1 million) donate on a monthly basis to medical research causes, followed closely by hospitals (26 percent), children (24 percent) and overseas charities (17 percent), the study found.

The average donation has gone down from 12 pounds in 2009/10 to 11 this year.

It's really encouraging that despite sharp rises in the cost of living, more people are supporting charities, said John Low, chief executive of the Charities Aid Foundation, one of the organisations that commissioned the study, alongside the National Council for Voluntary Organisations.

The economic downturn means many more people are turning to charities for help, and charities themselves are struggling against rising costs.

(Created by Li-mei Hoang)