An increase in the number of internet users over the age of 65 is driving a boom in online charitable donations, according to a new study.

In the UK, 82% of the population has access to the web, and more than half of those (52%) are so-called “silver surfers”, aged 65 or over. This is a significant increase from 2011, when 80% of the population were online and only 48% were over 65.

In a study of more than 2,000 adults website JustGiving conducted in partnership with ICM Research, the over-65 age demographic was found to be the most generous, donating an average of £182 per person per year, compared to an overall average of £135. Those in the 55 to 64 age group also donate more than the average, giving £157 per person per year.

Religious groups are among the primary beneficiaries, with web donations soaring by 128% over the past five years. Giving to culture and arts institutions has also trebled during that time.

“To keep up with their congregations, churches and faith groups need to catch up on modern methods of charitable giving beyond the plate and direct debit,” retired bishop the Rt Rev Stephen Lowe said.

“People want the ability to respond immediately to need in a world which is increasingly cashless, which is why so many of them are now giving online.”

JustGiving was was the world’s first online fundraising business, founded in 2001 with the purpose of making donations simpler and safer for everyone.

“Use of the internet is now mainstream among those aged 65 plus, and this is having a major impact on giving trends, with causes typically supported by older people benefiting,” said Elizabeth Kessick, head of insight at JustGiving.

“In addition to this, supporters of religious causes tend to be part of strong, tight-knit communities. They recognise the importance of tax-efficient giving, so encourage their peers to follow suit.”

When it comes to their online giving, over-65s are more likely to prioritise charities related to cancer and old age, but are less interested in animal charities, foreign aid and homelessness, according to the study.