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


Sir Harvey McGrath

This report began with a conversation between Ben Rogers and I about three years ago, when we both agreed that it would be helpful to step back a bit and take the measure of recent developments in London’s philanthropic, volunteering and social enterprise sector.

Critics sometimes draw a contrast between the US, which is said to have a very strong culture of charitable giving, and the UK, where we are more inclined to look to the state to step in. But this report reminds us that London has a long and, in some respects, very impressive story to tell. As Centre for London points out, London’s leading trusts, foundations and civil society infrastructure bodies work increasingly well together to address the pressures faced by London-focused charities and communities. As someone closely involved in efforts to promote philanthropy, social investment and social enterprise, I know firsthand that London is viewed around the world as a leading and highly innovative centre of “investing for good”. As a trustee of several London charities, I am also aware how much London-based businesses and philanthropists do to support the city.

However, this report also highlights some of the challenges London faces – including a worrying decline in the giving of time and money by ordinary Londoners, stubbornly low levels of giving by the city’s wealthiest residents, and a tendency among corporates to plough their own field rather than work together.

Nevertheless, there is no doubt in my mind that if London government, civic and business leaders set their sights high and work together in the ways suggested here, we can take investing for good in London to a new level.