As we have seen, London is in many ways a generous city. With its highly skilled and enterprising workforce, it has been at the forefront of developments aimed at encouraging giving and creating more effective philanthropy. However, there are undoubtedly opportunities to increase the quantity and quality of giving to London-level, national and international causes, across all five sectors surveyed in this report.
Our recommendations are addressed mainly to London government, businesses and civic organisations, rather than national ones – though we recognise the distinction is often a hazy one. This is not to say that there is nothing that national government and national organisations could and should be doing to strengthen giving in the capital. We support calls, for instance, to strengthen the Charity Commission’s regulatory role, obliging charities to provide more evidence of their impact and explore the case for mergers. 210 But we also think there are opportunities for London to promote giving, independently of much-needed national action.
We think the greatest opportunity for London-level action lies in encouraging a more strategic and joined-up approach to giving to London causes. Most of our recommendations are focused on this. However, we also believe there are opportunities to develop London’s role as a centre of national and international giving, and we advance recommendations to achieve this as well.
We argue that getting Londoners to give more, give better and give together requires a move to a “whole city” approach – one where leading public sector, business and civic organisations collaborate to encourage giving, identify priorities, and ensure giving addresses them in the most effective manner.
We recognise that there are clear limits on the extent to which donating and volunteering can be (or should be) planned and directed. By its very nature, giving is a voluntary activity, free of the demands of the state or the market. There are a vast number of worthy causes to which people might donate, and it is impossible to measure the value of all of these on a single metric. Who can say giving to a top-rank cancer research charity has more impact than giving to an outstanding offender rehabilitation social enterprise? We need a giving culture that supports experimentation and innovation rather than discouraging them simply because they don’t conform to some London “giving plan”.
Nevertheless, giving can be better or worse. And donors are more likely to give when the request is a clear and powerful one, and they are assured that giving will be well directed and effective. As we set out in our introduction, for all its reputation as a fast-moving and individualist city, many Londoners old and new feel a strong sense of belonging to the capital and are willing and eager to invest some time and/or money in “giving something back”. All this points to the need for London to develop a more rigorous and strategic giving regime as well as a stronger philanthropic ask.
“Carrying on doing more of the same is not going to increase the level of philanthropic support […] a positive campaign around philanthropy – ‘Look at the difference we can make together’ – would be a great thing to do.”
Chief Executive, charity
Achieving collaborative working across London giving sectors can be a challenge. London has an unusually decentralised system of government, with power distributed across the 33 boroughs, in addition to the many organisations working within each of our giving sectors and London civil society more generally. Clearly, though, some organisations are well positioned to take a lead; and most of our recommendations are directed at them. These include the Mayor of London, the City of London Corporation, London Funders, Trust for London, London Councils, London’s two community foundations, and the new London Plus. We refer to these leading London-focused organisations as “London’s giving leaders”.
“It [philanthropy in London] is very poorly led politically; I don’t see enough or hear enough unified calls for philanthropy by London’s leaders. And the Lord Mayor and the Mayor are good examples of that for me. They could and should be doing much more, in a much more joined-up way.”
Chief Executive, charity
The Mayor has a particularly important role. As London’s directly elected leader, he or she has a unique power to convene leading stakeholders, articulate and promote a vision, set expectations and push change forward. At the same time, the Mayor will need to maintain a light touch – to lead rather than control. There are risks, for instance, in the Mayor associating himself too closely with individual London charitable organisations or causes. As many of the experts we heard from argued, mayors are inevitably somewhat controversial, “Marmite” characters. Their close association with an organisation or a cause won’t always help it. The Mayor needs to be a champion of giving in general, articulating a vision and setting standards, supporting collaborative and strategic working, celebrating philanthropists and volunteers, and promoting giving across the capital – especially to London-focused charities and causes.
“…it’s about the Mayor enabling things to happen. We all know that the Mayor has incredible convening power, but that doesn’t mean the Mayor or the GLA has to deliver the outcomes of that convening […] The Mayor can be a powerful champion for throwing down the gauntlet for collaboration.”
What, then, is involved in a whole-city approach to giving more, giving better and giving together? We start with giving better, on the grounds that people and organisations are more likely to give when they are confident that their time and money will be well directed. The principle of giving together runs through all our recommendations.
If London is to give better, it will need to develop a stronger and shared understanding of priorities and how to address these.
“The London landscape is really complicated […] and a bit like the Wild West. It’s often very difficult to know what’s effective, what’s not effective, who’s bidding for what, it’s just a mess. Therefore, a lot of philanthropic decisions are often very personal and assumptive.”
Chief Executive, charity
We distinguish two elements needed to develop an understanding of giving priorities. First, London would benefit from a better and shared understanding of need. “Philanthropic particularism” is still a real and perennial issue in the capital, with charitable activity often directed at particular causes or localities that don’t always correspond with where need is greatest. Several of the charities and intermediary organisations we interviewed spoke about corporate giving failing to adapt to some of the changing dynamics of need in the capital, with much CSR activity continuing to accumulate in close proximity to offices in the City and Canary Wharf.
It is true that London has made some progress in developing a shared understanding of need. The London Poverty profile, established by Trust for London in 2009, is particularly important here. The Profile has quickly established itself as an accessible, authoritative and influential source of information. It has been instrumental in catalysing policy and practice change, including providing the evidence base for the campaign for the London Living Wage. 211 Nevertheless, several of our interviewees suggested that London needed to go further and build a rounder, more detailed picture of changing need in the capital – by going below the borough level and identifying particular pockets of local need, as well as covering issues such as victimisation or environmental degradation that are important to Londoners as a whole. There are examples from other cities that point the way. As we have seen, many US and Canadian cities are far ahead of London in adopting a “Vital Signs” approach and using quantitative and qualitative work to build a shared understanding of need (see International Case Study 1). A potential option would be for Trust for London to enhance the London Poverty Profile, using need data and citizen-led research in order to identify giving priorities for London.
Recommendation 1: London’s giving leaders should develop a richer understanding of need in the capital, perhaps through building on Trust for London’s London Poverty Profile.
Second, we need, as a city, to develop a better understanding of who is giving what, where donations of time and money are going, and how these can be more effectively directed. Currently, much of our information on aggregate foundation and corporate giving comes from national-level data, giving us a highly opaque picture of developments in London. At the same time, it has become much easier to share and analyse data using digital technology. The 360Giving initiative in particular provides a platform for funders to submit grant data, which, through the 360Giving open data Standard, takes advantage of common reporting fields – including the level of funding, funder and recipient information, and beneficiary location. This information can be easily analysed through the GrantNav online tool or downloaded as a CSV file. The tool has seen a good uptake in London: 42 out of 71 funders 212 currently submitting data are based in the capital. Nevertheless, this represents a small proportion of organisations working in London and is certainly insufficient to enable a robust assessment of aggregate funding flows across London.
Recommendation 2: London’s giving leaders should encourage all major London funding organisations – foundations, local authorities and corporates – to provide greater transparency on grant data by publishing on 360Giving. London Funders should also publish a regular “state of giving” review that would track the development of giving in London.
Acting on priorities
If the first element of giving better is the development of a shared understanding of patterns of need and giving, the second element is to ensure coordinated and impactful approaches to addressing needs.
London is already a relatively highly networked city, with a degree of coordinated giving. We have pointed to some facets of this in the course of this report. London Funders brings together many of the key giving organisations in the capital. The City of London is becoming increasingly strategic. Some of London’s business sectors have come together to pool their charitable efforts. London Plus has replaced two existing pan-London organisations and promises to help improve data, raise standards and connect different sectors together. The Mayor is taking more of a leadership role. At the local level we are also seeing promising developments, with trusts, foundations, corporates and local government working together (and in some cases pooling funds) to tackle social problems.
Nonetheless, London’s civic leaders need to continue to encourage joint working. The Mayor and other leaders should reiterate their support for strategic approaches at every turn. Moreover, there are a number of practical measures that could drive more coordinated approaches to giving.
Our research suggests that too much corporate giving takes place in a private world of its own. London Plus offers an opportunity to connect corporates who support employee volunteering with each other and to ensure volunteering efforts are directed at priority causes. London Plus could help support London’s many smaller charities by connecting them with expert volunteers – as we have seen, London’s smaller charities have been badly hit by public spending cuts.
Recommendation 3: Strengthen London Plus’ capacity to encourage employee volunteering, ensuring volunteering efforts go where they are needed most.
For two decades, London Funders has been central to connecting and convening the capital’s independent and statutory grant-makers. Its network groups have enabled knowledge-sharing around key London issues, strengthened funder practice in areas such as measurement and evaluation, and encouraged collaborative working. The development of these networks has, in recent years, enabled London Funders to play a leading role in driving improvements to London funding practice through reports such as The Way Ahead as well as its place-based giving programme. However, London Funders’ engagement of corporates and private philanthropists has been limited. With public spending cuts increasing the significance of these giving sectors to London’s wider funding mix, there is a pressing need to get corporates and individual philanthropists around the table, increase cross-sector communication, and foster collaborative working.
Recommendation 4: London Funders should make its work with corporates and private philanthropists a priority – encouraging more of them to join the organisation, promoting good practice, and advocating joint working among them. The Mayor of London and London’s other giving leaders should support London Funders in this.
Donors could also work together to reduce the burdens they place on their beneficiaries. While the Grenfell fire posed huge challenges for London voluntary sector, it also catalysed innovation, with London Funders leading in bringing together donors to create a single online funding portal for the charities working with Grenfell victims. London could build on this with, for example, a group of funders interested in addressing a particular social problem coming together to invite applications for funding through a shared portal.
Recommendation 5: London Funders should lead in adapting the Funders Portal – which allows voluntary sector organisations to access multiple funding streams with a single application – into a systemic London resource.
London has developed a reputation as a leading centre of national and international social investing over the last decade or so. Yet London-based social investors have at times struggled to find investible opportunities in the capital, and PWC’s 2015 report into London’s prospects as a “global financial centre for social investment” concluded that it was only at “stage 1” of its development: a strong national centre, but not a global one. 213
Several of our interviewees suggested that London’s social investment sector would benefit from a physical space where philanthropists, social investors and social entrepreneurs could meet. While there are numerous hubs and accelerators for social enterprises across the capital, none work to bring together the full range of players in London’s social investment ecosystem. There are international precedents from which London might learn, such as the MaRS district in Toronto (see International Case Study 4) or Civic Hall in New York. 214
Recommendation 6: London Funders should review the need for a physical space to act as a centre for philanthropy, social investment and enterprise in London.
Londoners’ generosity has been best expressed in recent years when galvanised around a particular event or cause. International examples (e.g. Do More 24 in Washington, DC; see International Case Study 2) show that city giving days can work, bringing in huge sums for local charities and addressing key social issues. City Giving Day has proved successful in the corporate sphere and some of the new Metro Mayors having been exploring the possibility of setting up their own Giving Days. But this poses the question: why can’t all Londoners, not just City workers, engage in an annual celebration of charitable giving and volunteering?
There are clear risks to this approach, and it would need to be carefully thought through and designed. We have seen other generic national or London giving campaigns fail to make much of an impact, in part due to the lack of an ask targeted at a particular cause. There is also a real danger of initiative fatigue – we already have City Giving Day and Giving Tuesday, as well as new emerging local schemes like Love Kingston Day. To ensure impact and long-term sustainability, any annual giving day should involve the following components:
- A cause focus that identifies a key issue each year for Londoners to support, but that also provides space for a broader celebration of monetary giving and volunteering.
- High-profile support from the Mayor of London, in conjunction with local political leaders and other private, public and voluntary sector leaders from across the capital.
- A targeted ask towards wealthy Londoners around giving back to the capital.
- An inclusive approach that ensures that Londoners of all backgrounds are engaged, harnessing giving traditions among ethnic minority and religious communities.
- Engagement of key fundraising and volunteering infrastructure organisations, including the Evening Standard, BBC London, London Community Foundation, East End Community Foundation, and local place-based giving schemes.
- Collaboration and alignment, where possible, with other giving campaigns – particularly City Giving Day, Giving Tuesday, and local place-based campaigns.
- An in-built system of monitoring and impact measurement to give robust figures on the amounts raised, number of people engaged, and ultimately the impact of the day on the issue area identified.
Recommendation 7: The Mayor, working with the City of London, London Funders and other partners, should establish an annual London giving day.
Many Londoners have seen their wealth increase dramatically in recent decades as property values have ballooned. And much of London’s physical infrastructure, including some of its iconic bridges and historic institutions, was funded by charitable legacies. But as we have seen, only one in twenty Londoners leave a bequest when they die – slightly below the national average. Against this background, London should aim not just to meet national averages, but to raise the bar on legacy giving. This will require a campaign that works with London media, financial advisors and employers, reaching Londoners across the city. The Mayor and the Corporation are well positioned to do more to promote legacy giving in the capital – working with other organisations (including Remember a Charity), or through a new annual giving day for the capital (see Recommendation 7).
Finally, organisations like London Community Foundation and East End Community Foundation also need to be part of any joint initiative on legacy giving, as they have the expertise to manage legacy gifts – particularly for Londoners who may not have an attachment to a particular charity but want to leave money or assets to support their local community or London as a whole.
Recommendation 8: London’s giving leaders should review how best to increase the proportion of Londoners leaving a charitable legacy in their wills, with a particular focus on property owners.
Smaller charities have often been hardest hit by public spending cuts. There is much that London’s funders can do to relieve the burdens on them and make it easier for them to apply for grants, including creating shared application processes (see Recommendation 5). But as traditional (and especially public sector) funding diminishes, small charities are going to have to look for funding from new sources, including major donors and corporates.
“The opportunities within London for corporate giving and high-value giving are increasingly important for third sector organisations. If you went back 5 or 10 years in terms of sustainability, it was all about trying to get people in with the council, but now there’s a lot less available; and really it’s been trying to support organisations [to] build relationships with corporate donors, and with high value donors. But this takes a lot more time.”
Grants Manager, independent foundation
Many smaller organisations, however, lack fundraising expertise and capacity, with the Institute of Fundraising finding evidence of “a skills shortage among smaller charities to raise the income that they need”. 215 This can be a particular problem for charities operating in underserved London locations. A 2017 survey of community organisations in Lambeth and Wandsworth by the Walcot Foundation, for example, asked respondents what kinds of support they would want from capacity-building consultancy and workshops: in both cases, fundraising support was the most commonly selected option. 216
Alongside giving better, we therefore also see developing capacity and skills around asking as a key component of efforts to ensure that funds are more effectively distributed across the capital and reach where the need is greatest.
“There’s a multitude of community groups, which are startups or small-scale organisations that have limited expertise, anddefinitely not a huge amount of confidence in terms of their ability to generate income […] but have got these amazing initiatives, and can be totally transformative of London, and reflect its diversity.”
Director of Fundraising, national charity
London civic leaders should then be looking to find ways to help SME charities build up their fundraising capacity, including through funded advice and training programmes.
Recommendation 9: London Funders should support fundraising capacity-building programmes among small and mediumsized charities.
In addition to measures that would help London give more and give better, our research has also identified a number of cross-cutting actions that would achieve both of these.
As already set out, the current Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has shown a strong interest in supporting London’s civil society and promoting giving. But over the longer term, City Hall’s engagement with non-statutory funders has been limited. The Mayor could learn from other cities such as New York, which have taken a more hands-on approach to convening philanthropic resources and directing them at identified city priorities (See International Case Study 3: The Office for Strategic Partnerships). Among other priorities, the Mayor should explore ways of encouraging social investment approaches to tackle London’s social problems. One option would be for the Mayor’s Fund for London to fulfil this role, but this would require a significant shift in emphasis – a shift from funding and delivering social mobility programmes, toward cultivating giving and mobilising cross-sector partnerships. In setting up any kind of OSP within City Hall, the GLA should also prioritise communication and partnership with external bodies, most notably London Community Foundation, who already have a role in leveraging giving from foundations, corporates and individuals to address pan-London issues.
Recommendation 10: The Mayor should establish a function within the GLA with the authority and resource to speak on philanthropy, harness the Mayor’s convening power, and leverage philanthropic support to address important London issues.
We know from our interviews that awards can have a huge impact on grassroots community organisations working tirelessly (and mostly without recognition) to stimulate giving and community engagement in their local area. Awards are also a great way to spotlight giving from communities who may be overlooked in traditional conversations around philanthropy in London. Various London organisations already give awards. The City of London Corporation runs the Beacon Awards, intended to honour philanthropists (though these are national in scope), and the GLA runs the Team London Awards, focused on Team London-supported programmes. But there is an absence of high-profile awards for London-focused volunteering in general, and for London-focused giving by trusts and foundations, ordinary Londoners, wealthy Londoners or corporates.
Recommendation 11: The Mayor, working with London Funders and the City of London Corporation, should review how best to recognise individuals and organisations that give most and give best in London.
Though London has developed as a leading global social investment hub, it is not clear that this has translated into a particularly large or vibrant market supporting London-focused initiatives. In particular, there is some evidence to suggest that the bottom end of the market – i.e. smaller, high-risk investments in social enterprises and charities – is underdeveloped. Our research suggests that London’s smaller social enterprises can find it hard to secure the social investment they need.
Recommendation 12: London Funders and other London giving leaders should promote funder collaboration to develop the bottom end (risk capital) area of the market in London.
Strengthening London’s national and global role
Much of the emphasis in our recommendations is on promoting more and better giving to London causes. We make no apology for this. As we have set out, London faces acute need. It has been a difficult time for London-focused charities. And many London organisations have a statutory duty to focus on the capital. But the benefits of a more concerted, strategic and joined-up approach will not be limited to the city. Giving is rarely a zero-sum game and persuading Londoners to give more, give better and give together would benefit non-London-focused causes as well. Many of the recommendations set out will have national benefits; moves to encourage legacy giving or boost social enterprise, for instance, would increase giving in general, not just to London causes.
Nevertheless, we also argue that there are real opportunities for London to boost its position as a global giving capital, both by attracting new players and supporting the development of those already here. Moreover, there are opportunities for London to work with other UK cities and regions (and beyond) in sharing resources and lessons.
As already set out, London is a well-establishedcentre of global civil society in general, and giving in particular. Many international philanthropists chose to establish their trusts and foundations in the capital – not least because of its legal and financial expertise. The capital plays host to countless international civil society conferences and meetings. Yet despite its economic and broader “soft power” significance, London’s giving sector rarely gets the same attention as other economic sectors. Developing London’s position as a global capital of giving could make a significant contribution to London’s economy and influence – as well as helping the growth of philanthropy globally.
We recommend that the Mayor, working with the City of London Corporation, The Philanthropy Collaborative, and other partners review London’s current position as a global centre of giving and identifies ways in which this could be further developed. The review should look at recent global trends in giving, London’s strengths and weaknesses as a global giving capital compared to other cities, and what it can do to strengthen its position. With the ranks of the wealthy and super-wealthy growing all the time, and emerging economies in Asia, Africa and South America producing a new generation of wealthy individuals, the greatest opportunity probably lies in attracting wealthy philanthropists and new philanthropic trusts or foundations to London. The review should particularly focus on how London can attract and retain these. It is quite possible that one of London’s many consultancies or the Philanthropy Collaborative (see Case study 6) would be pleased to lead this review pro bono.
Recommendation 13: The Mayor, working with the City of London Corporation, The Philanthropy Collaborative and other partners, should establish a review of London’s current position as a global centre of giving and identify ways in which this could be strengthened.
Though it is a slow process, the governance of England’s cities is changing, with central government promoting new, more accountable Mayoral models of leadership in exchange for devolution of new powers. Devolution presents an opportunity to re-establish traditions of civic urban philanthropy that were once a very prominent feature of many UK cities, and which remain a feature of many US cities today. 217 Centre for London has already argued that London in general, and the Mayor of London in particular, needs to develop stronger connections with other British city leaders and work with them in advancing common interests. 218 As London continues to develop a more strategic and joined-up approach to city giving, it should look for opportunities for sharing knowledge with other UK cities, as well as learning from them. One option would be for London’s giving leaders to establish a network of UK cities — focused on developing and promoting city giving.
Recommendation 14: London’s giving leaders should work with other UK cities in developing and promoting city-focused giving.
Summary of recommendations
–– Recommendation 1: London’s giving leaders should develop a richer understanding of need in the capital, perhaps through building on Trust for London’s London Poverty Profile.
–– Recommendation 2: London’s giving leaders should encourage all major London funding organisations – foundations, local authorities and corporates – to provide greater transparency on grant data by publishing on 360Giving. London Funders should also publish a regular “state of giving” review that would show the direction of giving in London.
–– Recommendation 3: Strengthen London Plus’ capacity to encourage employee volunteering, ensuring volunteering efforts go where they are needed most.
–– Recommendation 4: London Funders should make its work with corporates and private philanthropists a priority – encouraging more of them to join the organisation, promoting good practice, and advocating joint working among them. The Mayor of London and London’s other giving leaders should support London Funders in this.
–– Recommendation 5: London Funders should lead in adapting the Funders Portal – which allows voluntary sector organisations to access multiple funding streams with a single application – into a systemic London resource.
–– Recommendation 6: London Funders should review the need for a physical space to act as a centre for philanthropy, social investment and enterprise in London.
––Recommendation 7: The Mayor, working with the City of London Corporation, London Funders and other partners, should establish an annual London giving day.
–– Recommendation 8: London’s giving leaders should review how best to increase the proportion of Londoners leaving a charitable legacy in their wills, with a particular focus on property owners.
–– Recommendation 9: London Funders should support fundraising capacity-building programmes among small and medium-sized charities.
–– Recommendation 10: The Mayor should establish a function within the GLA with the authority and resource to speak on philanthropy, harness the Mayor’s convening power, and leverage philanthropic support to address important London issues.
–– Recommendation 11: The Mayor, working with London Funders and City of London Corporation, should review how best to recognise individuals and organisations that give most and give best in London.
–– Recommendation 12: London Funders and other London giving leaders should promote funder collaboration to develop the bottom end (risk capital) area of the market in London.
–– Recommendation 13: The Mayor, working with the City of London Corporation and other partners, should establish a review of London’s current position as a global centre of giving and identify ways in which this could be strengthened.
–– Recommendation 14: London’s giving leaders should work with other UK cities in developing and promoting city-focused giving.