Donations from the top 100 philanthropists have dropped by one third in a year, down by £818 million to £1.67 billion, according to this year’s Sunday Times Giving List.
The figures, which will be published in full this Sunday (8 May) in the Sunday Times Rich List, show the impact that the financial crisis and recession has had on philanthropy. It also demonstrates that the government’s call for individual philanthropists to step in to support the charity sector has not yet been heeded.
The sudden drop in major gifts is bad news for charities, but there are positive trends in the research. The number of donors giving more than £1 million grew from 118 to 129 in the past 12 months. Also the top 30 philanthropists on the list gave away a larger proportion of their wealth, donating at least 3.42% compared to 3.22% in the previous year. On the other hand, it could be argued that charities are relying on major gifts from even fewer individuals.
This is the 10th edition of the Giving List which is sponsored by the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF). For the first time, CAF and the Sunday Times asked those on the Rich List additional questions about their motivations to give and views on philanthropy. Answers provided by 29 respondents reveal the importance of:
• impact: 89% of respondents claim that they only invest in charities which can clearly demonstrate their impact; 79% say that it is important to give strategically, and the same amount believe that they manage to give strategically.
• communication: only 64% of respondents are satisfied with the feedback they receive from charities, and 59% feel that charities must improve their communications in order to meet their potential.
• advice on their giving: only 42% of respondents felt that advice on how to give was readily available. This however does not deter nearly three-quarters (72%) of philanthropists from spending a considerable amount of time researching their philanthropic decisions.
The main, near universal (97% of respondents) reason for giving was personal values; 76% said that personal experiences had influenced them to be charitable. Enjoyment was a big factor in giving for 69%, and 57% said they did it in order to leave a positive legacy.
Commenting on the figures, Jo Ensor, Head of Advisory at the Charities Aid Foundation, said: “These figures provide valuable insight from a very hard to reach group of donors. There are many lessons here for charities who wish to interact with these philanthropists; notably tailoring their communications and better demonstrating the impact of their work.”
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