Londoners give less time and money than they did five years ago, warns report 

03 Sep 2018 News

People living in London are volunteering and donating less than they did five years ago, according to a report by the Centre for London. 

More, better, together: A strategic review of giving in London, has been published today and reviews the scale impact of different types of giving and volunteering. 

The think tank is now calling on funders, charities, corporates and the public sector to work more collaboratively to better understand London’s needs as well as to encourage more giving with the view of developing a “whole city” approach. 

The report warns that over the past five years there has been a decline in giving and volunteering. 

It said that the proportion of Londoners who regularly donate has fallen by 8 per cent from 81 per cent in 2013/14 to 73 per cent in 2017/18, and that this figure is now 2 percentage points below the figure for the rest of England. 

The proportion of people who volunteer at least once a month has fallen by 3 per cent to 21 per cent over the same period. 

Uneven spread

The report also found that the local charities are unevenly spread across the capital, with most boroughs experiencing a fall in the number of local charities. 

“London is sometimes presented as a hotspot of charitable activity and contrasted to ‘cold spots’ or ‘charity deserts’ in other parts of the country. But this picture fails to fully recognise the difference between where charities are based and where they operate: London is home to many large charities that don’t confine their activity to the capital, with some (particularly international charities) operating entirely outside of it,” the report said. 

Analysis of Charity Commission data showed that the total number of charities based in London has risen by 7 per cent and the capital accounts for 47 per cent of the sector’s income, but the number of charities focused on London causes has not grown. 

There are also fewer local charities per head of the population in London than elsewhere in the country. In London there are 1.4 per 1,000 population compared to 1.9 per 1,000 population for England as a whole. 

Some boroughs have seen an increase in local charities over the last five years. For example Hackney and Tower Hamlets saw increases of 7 per cent and 8 per cent respectively. But the report notes that outer London boroughs such as Croydon and Kington have seen falls of 7 per cent and 5 per cent. The report says that austerity and cuts to local authority funding are likely to have contributed to the decline.  

‘Whole city’ approach

Centre for London is now calling for a “whole city” approach. 

It said that as “giving leaders” the Mayor of London, the City of London, London Funders, Trust for London, London Councils, London’s two Community Foundations, and the new London Plus, should develop a better understand of needs. 

To encourage philanthropy these giving leaders should create London Giving Day to galvanise giving from the public, work more closely with corporates and the very rich and do more to promote legacy giving. 

It also called for more support to help smaller local charities to build their fundraising skills. 

Ben Rogers, director, Centre for London said: “We know that people and organisations are more likely to give when they are confident that their time and money will be well-directed. That’s why we think the greatest opportunity lies in encouraging a more joined-up approach to giving across the city.

“At the centre of this, the Mayor should step up his role as a champion of giving, celebrating philanthropists and volunteers, and promoting giving across the capital – especially to London-focused charities and local causes.”

Other recommendations 

Centre for London also called on funders to be more transparent and publish grant data on 360Giving. It suggested London Funders publish a regular “state of giving” report. 

It called on the mayor to establish a function that has “authority and resource to speak on philanthropy, harness the mayor’s convening power, and leverage philanthropic support to address important London issues”.

The mayor, London Funders and City of London Corporation should also look at how to recognised Indi duals and organisations for their giving. 

Lessons for other cities 

The Institute of Fundraising said that the recommendations in the report could be applied to other cities. 

Peter Lewis, chief executive of the Institute of Fundraising, said: “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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