Giving back better

Think tank: Onward

Author(s): Shivani H Menon

January 25, 2024

This report from UK think tank Onward looks at unlocking philanthropy in the UK.

Philanthropy is a vital source of economic and social capital. It brings with it wealth in many forms – in funding, expertise, networks, and innovative thinking to solve pressing problems. In the current climate where an alarming number of charities are on the verge of bankruptcy, philanthropy matters more than ever before. But three trends are holding back philanthropy’s potential: The most affluent are donating proportionately less. The top 10% of earners in the UK donate at half the rate of the poorest 10%, resulting in £3.4 billion of lost funding for charities. Too few wealthy individuals are participating in philanthropy. Of all donations from the top 1% of households, half came from less than 5% of the group. And donors are donating to a narrow set of places in the UK. Donations made through Gift Aid were four times higher in London compared to the UK average. And over a third of all grants from the largest philanthropic foundations were made into London.