I’ve been in Athens this week, teaching a condensed version of my ‘fundraising and philanthropy’ masters level course, to 16 University of Kent students who are based in that fascinating city, studying for a masters degree in Heritage Management. It makes perfect sense to pursue that degree in a city where there’s the equivalent of a Stonehenge on every street corner. The course leader, Dr Evangelos Kyriakidis is a dynamic and energetic academic, who has not only designed this course but has managed to engage the support of a number of philanthropic individuals and charitable foundations so that full scholarships (fees and living expenses) are available every year to a cohort of students from developing countries. This initiative combines support for bright young scholars with a longer-term contribution to development, as their careers should eventually help to attract tourists to visit the heritage sites in their home countries. An excellent win-win for philanthropists seeking to make a difference in the world.
Talking of which, I returned to the UK to read the excellent news that 12 more names have been added to the Giving Pledge, including 4 in the UK. The pledge is a public commitment, now signed by more than 100 individuals and families, to give the larger part of their wealth to good causes. When this pledge was first launched in 2010, it was suggested that such a public statement of intent would not appeal to individuals and families outside of the USA, so it is heartening to find that is not the case. Here’s some comment on this development from the UK’s Matthew Bishop, co-coiner of the term ‘philanthrocapitalism’, whose opinion is always worth reading.
Last week’s front page of The Times made many people’s hearts sink – including mine.
The Times had exposed a scam that takes advantage of charity tax relief to enable unscrupulous individuals to claim millions of pounds without actually making any meaningful contribution to charitable activity.
Unsurprisingly, some made the link between this revelation and last year’s Budget which attempted to cap charity tax reliefs. Along with many others, I had argued at the time that it was mathematically impossible to enrich oneself by donating, despite widespread public suspicions that tax avoidance was a major motive behind philanthropy.
So thank god for the news, reported in Third Sector, that the attempt to defraud the tax system and damage the image of philanthropy has failed.
But it is still an awful shame that this story was not nipped in the bud the moment it surfaced. The Charity Commission’s statement that it was “not comfortable” with the set up is hardly the kind of firm regulation we need to ensure public confidence in giving and philanthropy.
I hope the Times gives equal, front-page coverage to the news that this scam has failed – otherwise our chances of growing a stronger culture of philanthropy in the UK will become that bit more remote.
Happy New Year!
2013 is going to be a good year for lots of reasons. But the one I’m thinking about today is that I’ll soon be starting a new project on the art of fundraising, kindly funded by the Leverhulme Trust,
The main reason that people give money to charity is because someone asks them to – but despite an increasing body of research into donors, we know next to nothing about those who do the asking. My 3-year study will examine the finest volunteer and paid staff fundraisers in the country to try and work out what it is they do and say that makes this magic transaction happen.There’s an article about my study here on the ESRC website if you want to know more.
I don’t get going on this study until May, but couldn’t resist an invitation from the good people at Civil Society, who publish Fundraising magazine, to write this column about the ‘secret ingredients’ to fundraising success. The article is published today and contains not just the results of a survey of fundraising directors but a joke too. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
I’m an avid follower of the Institute of Fundraising’s LinkedIn discussion pages. If you have even a passing interest in how fundraising works, and the issues that challenge people trying to raise money for good causes, then I recommend taking a look. It’s worth joining the Institute of Fundraising just to get access to this resource.
One particularly impressive feature is the fabulous, free advice given by the titans of the fundraising profession to anyone who asks. Just this morning someone asked for help, clearly struggling to bring in the money her cause needs. Her question was: ‘How big does a fundraising team need to be to make it effective?’ Giles Pegram (of NSPPC Full Stop campaign fame, which raised £250m), immediately gave this frank and comprehensive reply, which is worth quoting in full:
I said at the beginning of this topic (How big does a fundraising team need to be to make it effective) that my answer is ‘one’, and I still believe it. I presume your finances are in a bad way, or you would appoint a full time fundraiser. Take your Trustees and donors with you.
First, concentrate on researching and then crafting applications to 20 Trusts and Foundations. That will give you some quick money. Which you can use to appoint a full-time fundraiser.
Secondly, write to all your donors, and lay out your position clearly. Ask them to become regular givers at £2 a month. ( I assume there is someone in finance who could help with this ), or give a cah gift, and at the same time invite them to an open day, in your offices to hear from the CEO. Less than 10% will come, but the others will appreciate being asked. Be totally honest with them.
Thirdly, set up a stewardship scheme for all your supporters. Write to them regularly about your work. From time to time ask if they would like to upgrade their regular gift ? become a regular giver, or give a cash gift. Connect them with the cause
Fourthly, ask your Trustees for help. Get them, at least to invite their conacts to the open day. They are responsible for the financial stability of the Charity. And, get them to form a fundraising sub-committee to help.
By now, you must have raised enough to appoint a full time, experienced fundraiser, who can do a proper audit, and create a longer term plan. I said at the beginning, my answer was ‘ one ‘ and I still believe it.
People normally have to pay a lot of money to get advice from people with a fraction of the experience of someone like Giles. The Institute should be congratulated for facilitating this excellent mentoring, and the more people who take advantage of this opportunity, the better our asking culture will become.
I’ll blog properly soon about the latest Million Pound Donors Report, released today. But for now here’s the press release:
The annual Coutts Million Pound Donor Report, released on 10 December and produced in association with the Centre for Philanthropy, Humanitarianism and Social Justice (CPHSJ) at the University of Kent, has found a record total of 232 separate ‘million pound or more’ philanthropic donations made by individuals, trusts and corporations in the UK during 20010/11.
This is the largest total identified by the report in any one year since the study began in 2008, up by 58 donations compared to last year. There has also been a big increase in the number of million pound donors, with 130 different donors identified, up from 73 the previous year (this includes individuals, charitable trusts, foundations and corporations, some of whom made more than one donation worth £1 million or more).
The total value of these donations was £1.241 billion. This is lower than the total value recorded in previous years, down from £1.312 billion in last year’s report, which covered donations made in 2009/10.
More than half of the million pound donations made in 2010/11 were donated by 93 individual donors, with a total value of £763 million. Living individuals therefore continue to be the most significant source of the largest donations.
Higher Education, Arts and Culture and International Development remain the most popular destinations for the largest gifts amongst both individual and institutional donors. But support for environmental causes increased in 2010/11, and all types of charities attract some support from million pound donors.
This annual report, which is now in its fifth year of publication, tracks size, scale and recipients of donations worth £1m or more from individuals, trusts and corporations in the UK and is illustrated with a number of case studies of donors and recipients, who discuss their experience.
The Coutts report also finds that despite the fall in the overall value of ‘million pound donations’, the amount that went directly to charities, rather than being ‘banked’ in foundations, increased from £631m to £747m, indicating a shift towards getting funds out onto the ‘front line’ to charities, many of which are struggling to raise funds from other sources.
One hundred and ninety-one organisations received million pound donations in 2010/11. This is far higher than the 154 recipients identified in 2009/10. The vast majority (166) received only one gift of this size. Organisations that received multiple million pound donations tended to be the oldest universities (notably Oxford and Cambridge) or national arts and cultural institutions.
As in every year that the report has been published, the most frequent size of donation is worth exactly £1m, indicating that ‘giving a million’ has both economic and psychological significance for donors, and is the size of gift that establishes a donor amongst the ‘top rank’ of UK philanthropists.
Dr Beth Breeze, of the Centre for Philanthropy at the University’s School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research and author of the report, said: ‘At a time when ordinary donors are finding it tough to maintain their support for charities, it is heartening to see those with a greater capacity to give are stepping up to the challenge in increased numbers. A seven-figure donation is obviously a major commitment, and it is not surprising that people start by making a gift of £1 million, rather than – say- £10 million. But experience shows that if donors feel their money is well spent, and that their contribution is appreciated and makes a tangible difference to the causes they care about, then they will continue to give at this level, and quite possibly increase their contributions. You very rarely meet an ex-philanthropist!
‘Before we started this annual study of million pound donations, there was no clear understanding of the scale, role and significance of the largest philanthropic acts in the UK. That was an important gap in our knowledge that needed filling, because we need a proper understanding of current levels of support in order to make robust plans for developing this much-needed source of income in the future. The data and analysis provided by the Centre for Philanthropy at the University of Kent is helping charities, fundraisers and policymakers to build a decent knowledge base about major giving and gain a better understanding of the main trends in contemporary UK philanthropy, which should help the UK to develop a stronger culture of philanthropy.’
Maya Prabhu, Executive Director, Philanthropy Services at Coutts, said: ‘It’s extremely encouraging for the development of UK philanthropy to note that this is the highest number of donors and donations since we began compiling this report in 2008. Large scale philanthropy is on the increase and the more donors there are and the more they communicate about the benefits their philanthropy brings to society and what it means to them personally, the more it will grow and strengthen a new generation of philanthropists.
‘Despite the scepticism suggesting that many large scale donors are simply looking to make the most of ‘tax breaks’ on offer, our experience, as backed up by this report, is that the reality is very different. Today, the majority of the philanthropists we meet are self-made individuals, many of whom have witnessed first hand the highs and lows of building a business, and on occasion, the possibility of losing everything. It’s a strong desire to make a contribution to the world that has afforded them so many opportunities, whilst also enriching their own lives, their families and the lives of others that we see as the main driver for their philanthropy.’
The Coutts Million Pound Donor Report has been published annually since 2008, all five reports are freely available online here.
If anyone would like a hard copy of the 2012 report, please email me at b.breeze(at)kent.ac.uk
The past year has been a turbulent one for philanthropy in the UK.
Whilst progress has been made in doing more to celebrate and encourage those who give away some of their private wealth to promote the public good, the repercussions of last Spring’s Budget continue. The proposal to impose a cap on charity tax relief was announced, roundly criticised, and eventually (and thankfully) dropped. But the pain it caused to philanthropists, who found themselves labelled as tax dodgers and accused of contributing to ‘dodgy charities’, goes on. Earlier this week when the topic came up in a roomful of donors, the emotional impact was apparent. A man who has given generously to a range of causes said he was ‘apoplectic’, and in fact seemed to still be in a state of apoplexy.
So at a time when the motives of philanthropists and the purpose of philanthropy is under such scrutiny, it is welcome that this year’s Attlee lecture focused on this very topic. Sir Stuart Etherington’s lecture, called Philanthropy, Fairness and Democracy is well worth a read. Here’s the concluding paragraph to whet your whist:
Society is a better place thanks to the altruism and reciprocity of us all: rich and poor, young and old, donors of time and money. And whatever the weaknesses inherent in philanthropy and voluntarism, the value and values they bring mean we should nurture and celebrate them.