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Pushing the UK’s giving onwards and upwards

The UK has a long history of philanthropic giving. The publication of this year’s Sunday Times Rich List at the weekend highlights examples of many individuals and families dedicating portions of their wealth to social good. As well as building schools and youth clubs, kitting out hospitals, and protecting and promoting the arts, the flexibility of private funding presents great opportunities for impact. Philanthropists have an important role to play in championing unfashionable causes, giving organisations the unrestricted investment they need to plan and develop, and funding new, seemingly risky initiatives where other funders may not have such freedom to tread.

And yet despite this long history of giving, the UK currently ranks 8th in the world for charitable giving, behind countries such as the US and Australia, Myanmar and Sri Lanka. As we argued in our 2016 report Giving more and better, more can and should be done. This becomes especially apparent when we look across the pond, with the US beating the UK in the rankings in terms of participation in giving, overall amount of giving, and giving as proportion of GDP. Our report highlights research from Scorpio Partnership, which estimates that if high- and ultra high-net-worth individuals moved to best practice levels of giving, their contribution to the charitable sector could quadruple from £1.3bn to £5.2bn.

But giving more is only part of the picture. At NPC we welcome the increasing numbers of individuals and families thinking not only about what but about how they give.

We see great potential for the philanthropy sector to grow and improve, both through unlocking more funds and through philanthropists becoming more strategic about the donations they make.

Since its inception, NPC has supported philanthropists to maximise the impact of their giving, and fifteen years on this remains a core part of what we do. We advocate a five-step process to effective funding: first develop your strategy, then get to know your cause, find and fund great charities, make your grants effectively, and assess your impact.

A colleague and I worked recently with an individual donor looking to support refugees and asylum seekers in the UK. Inspired in part by NPC’s cause briefing paper Solutions for sanctuary, we analysed a number of charities to identify the one he felt would help him make the greatest difference to refugees. And we’ve been through a similar process for a client interested in improving outcomes for children in or leaving care.

At NPC it’s exciting to work with donors at all stages of this giving journey, from those just starting out to the more experienced and established. We are part of a philanthropy support ecosystem, alongside organisations like Ten Years Time, the Philanthropy Workshop and Philanthropy Impact, and of course the professional advisory firms, who have a key role to play. And NPC’s long history of support to charities, as well as our experience working with funders, enables us to see both sides of the coin.

We think the philanthropy sector can grow and improve, both through unlocking more funds and through philanthropists becoming more strategic and impact-focused about the donations they make. As we have previously stressed, philanthropy organisations need to take a closer and more coordinated approach and use their grant-making data to aid giving. Meanwhile, advisors need to invest their skills and networks into signposting donors along their journey, and thoughtful funders also have a role to play in setting an example for their peers.

So we welcome news from this year’s Giving List that donations from the UK’s wealthiest philanthropists are at record levels. But we see huge potential for more, and will continue to support and push the UK’s philanthropy onwards and upwards.

Get in touch if you’d like to talk to us about your giving.

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