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‘Whole city’ approach required to address decline in Londoners’ giving, says report

‘Whole city’ approach required to address decline in Londoners’ giving, says report

Londoners are giving less money and time to charity than they were five years ago, according to a report, out today (3 September).

Centre for London reviewed the scale and impact of five forms of charitable giving, including giving by the general public, giving by the wealthiest Londoners, corporate philanthropy and social investment for its report, More, better, together: A strategic review of giving in London.

It found a decline in giving and volunteering by the London public over the last five years, including:

  • The proportion of Londoners regularly donating to charity has declined by 8% over the last five years, from 81% in 2013-14 to 73% in 2017-18,
  • This is now 2 percentage points lower than in the rest of England (75%).
  • The proportion of Londoners who volunteer at least once a month has also fallen by 3%, from 24% in 2013-14 to 21% in 2017-18

However, it found that the number of Londoners with more than £24.2 million in assets rose by 41% between 2005 and 2015. The report estimates that collectively, London’s millionaires give in the region of £1 to £1.5 billion annually, with around half of these gifts going to universities.

The report also found London’s local charities and charitable activities to be unevenly spread across the city, reflected by two trends:

  • While the number of charities focused on London causes increased in some inner London boroughs, such as Hackney (+7%) and Tower Hamlets (+8%), most saw a fall in the five years to 2015. This was most pronounced in outer London boroughs, including Croydon (-7%) and Kingston (-5%)
  • While corporate philanthropy is growing, giving time and skills tends to be overly concentrated around central London locations and on particular causes




The report proposes that London should adopt a “whole city” approach to giving, with leading public sector, business and civic organisations working together to develop a shared understanding of priorities and to ensure resources are used effectively where most needed.

The report’s recommendations include that London’s giving leaders should develop a greater understanding of need in the capital, that all Londoners should be encouraged to give, with the establishment of an annual London Giving Day, that legacy giving should be promoted among property owners, and that there is more support for SME charities focused on London issues.

Ben Rogers, Director, Centre for London said:

“Londoners’ generosity in recent years has been galvanised around a particular event or cause. The outpouring of public support in the aftermath of the Grenfell fire was a humbling example of this. But despite these moments of generosity, London’s charities and those they help are feeling the impact of a decline in regular volunteering and giving.

“We know that people and organisations are more likely to give when they are confident that their time and money will be well-directed. That’s why we think the greatest opportunity lies in encouraging a more joined-up approach to giving across the city.

“At the centre of this, the Mayor should step up his role as a champion of giving, celebrating philanthropists and volunteers, and promoting giving across the capital – especially to London-focused charities and local causes.”


Melanie May is a journalist and copywriter specialising in writing both for and about the charity and marketing services sectors since 2001. She can be reached via

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