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More, better, together: A strategic review of giving in London

This report reviews the scale and impact of the giving of time and money in London, and identifies what the city can do to give more, give better and give together.

London is a national and global centre of philanthropy. But it is also a city of extremes, where enormous wealth sits alongside poverty and exclusion. Despite this concentration of wealth and charitable activity, our research has found that charitable giving in the capital does not necessarily favour local causes.

This report looks at five forms of charitable giving in London: giving by trusts and foundations, giving by the general public, giving by the wealthiest Londoners, corporate philanthropy and social investment.

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Our research found:

Fewer Londoners are giving time and money to charity than they were five years ago

  • The proportion of Londoners who regularly donate to charity has declined – by 8 per cent over the last five years, from 81 per cent in 2013-14 to 73 per cent in 2017-18.
  • The proportion of Londoners who volunteer at least once a month has fallen by 3 per cent, from 24 per cent in 2013-14 to 21 per cent in 2017-18.
  • The number of Londoners with more than £24.2 million (equivalent to $30 million) in assets rose by 41 per cent between 2005 and 2015, but there is a disconnect between the wealthiest Londoners and their engagement with philanthropy.

London’s local charities and charitable activities are unevenly spread across the city

  • While the number of charities focused on London causes increased in some inner London boroughs, such as Hackney (+7 per cent) and Tower Hamlets (+8 per cent), most saw a fall in the five years to 2015. This was most pronounced in outer London boroughs, including Croydon (-7 per cent) and Kingston (-5 per cent).
  • Corporate philanthropy is growing, but the giving of time and skills tends to be concentrated around central and inner East London, making it hard for charities in outer London to attract support.

London needs a “whole city” approach to giving

The report recommends:

  • Developing understanding of need: London’s giving leaders should develop a richer understanding of need across the capital.
  • Encourage all Londoners to give: Londoners’ generosity has been best expressed around a particular event or cause. London’s giving leaders should establish an annual London giving day.
  • Greater transparency: Major London funding organisations – foundations, local authorities and corporates – should be encouraged to provide greater transparency on grant data by publishing on 360Giving.
  • Support for London’s local charities: Public spending cuts have often hit smaller charities hardest. London civic leaders should help SME charities to build up their fundraising capacity, with funded advice and training programmes.
  • Physical space for philanthropists: London Funders should review the need for a physical space to act as a centre for philanthropy, social investment and enterprise.

Peter Lewis, CEO, Institute of Fundraising:

“This is the best piece of research I have seen on how to increase place-based giving in the UK. Although focused on London, there are lessons for every city in the UK in relation to gathering the evidence, convening leaders from all sectors, and being more proactive at engaging and directing philanthropy to meet specific, identified needs.”

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This project has been generously supported by