What does the Giving List say to you?

This weekend saw publication of the Sunday Times Giving List, with the encouraging news that the amount of giving tracked from those appearing in the Rich List has grown 21% to £2,081m. Yet, on the other hand, we were disappointed to note that philanthropists are giving away a smaller proportion of their wealth than in previous years.

Having spent the last year wrapped up in NPC’s Money for Good UK research into donor motivations, I can’t read about giving on this scale without wondering which of the donor types they might be. This year David Kirch, a former property developer, tops the list having devoted his entire £100m fortune to elderly people in his local community of Jersey. Kirch has consistently supported older people of the community over a number of years by giving cash gifts at Christmas, and comments that he likes to see the difference his money makes—which makes me wonder if he’s a Loyal Supporter; motivated above all by a cause and a need to see that their money has been put to good use.

It’s great to see some new entries high on the Giving List, including well known figures such as the band One Direction, who are ranked twentieth on the list after giving away a whopping 4% of their wealth less than three years into their careers as the world’s favourite boyband. The band gave £1m of their combined £25m fortune to Comic Relief—and contributed Comic Relief’s stellar £75m fundraising performance during this this year’s campaign. It’s brilliant to see young people so committed to giving and ready to act as role models for others, and really chimes with our findings that young people really do care about giving. One Direction’s decision to give through such a public fundraising campaign and use their fame to raise awareness of the issues they care about as well as funds, makes me think they might be Engaged Champions.

We were also delighted to see people who are doing really interesting things featuring highly on this year’s Giving List, for example Alan Parker who comes in at number seven. Parker founded the Oak foundation, which is thinking seriously and creatively about how they make a long-term difference in the areas they care about. For example, Oak funded NPC’s Unlocking Offending Data  work last year, which led to the creation of the Ministry of Justice’s Justice Data Lab—making data on reoffending rates available to help service delivering organisations understand how effective their interventions have been. By funding research which underpins system-change, Alan Parker has been a real game-changer for the many charities which would otherwise struggle to evidence their results, and therefore struggle in the new commissioning environment. Given this, I think Parker might be a Thoughtful Philanthropist—keen to fund in an informed and information-driven way, and interested above all in the impact that his money is having.

Those are just three of the seven profiles we outlined based on the research that Ipsos Mori carried out for us of 3,000 people who give more than £50 a year. Reading the various responses to the Rich List, however, it seems that it inspires many responses and interpretations. A bit like the Rorschach or inkblot test: one person will see a butterfly, another person the entrance to a cave. What does the Rich List and Giving List say to you?