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Grantmaking by UK foundations up by 10 per cent but overall income is down

30 Apr 2014 News

Grantmaking by the UK’s top 300 charitable foundations increased by 10 per cent to £2.4bn between 2010 and 2013, new research shows.

Grantmaking by the UK’s top 300 charitable foundations increased by 10 per cent to £2.4bn between 2010 and 2013, new research shows.

But the report, Foundation Giving Trends, published today by the Association of Charitable Foundations (ACF), finds that over the same period foundations experienced a drop in income of 9.7 per cent to £2.3bn.

The ACF said the “unprecedented” growth in grantmaking at the same time as a drop of the same amount in income, showed the importance of foundation assets, which have allowed several larger foundations to increase their funding in a time of greater need and reduced government spending.

The report was the first in a new series of annual research on foundation giving trends, which is being led by Professor Cathy Pharoah of the Centre for Giving and Philanthropy at Cass Business School. 

It is based on the annual reports and accounts of the UK’s top 300 foundations, which make up 90 per cent of all foundation giving in the UK, a survey of more than 300 ACF members, and other sources including tax statistics.

The annual trend data is presented as relating to the years 2010/12 and 2011/13 because foundations’ accounts are published at different times of the year, the report says.

Grantmaking increased from £2.19bn in 2010/12 to £2.41bn in 2011/13, the report says, with levels beginning to recover after the financial downturn, but not yet reaching the 2008/09 peak of £2.54bn.

Between 2010/12 and 2011/13, income fell from £2.56bn to £2.31, the report shows.

Net assets between 2010/12 and 2011/13, increased 6.7 per cent to £42.73bn. 

The report lists the top 300 foundations by their grantmaking. It is topped by the Wellcome Trust, which spent £511.1m in the year to September 2012, followed by the Gatsby Charitable Foundation, which spent £144.5m in the year to April 2012, and Comic Relief, which gave £78m in the year to July 2012.

It shows that 20 foundations disburse £1.3bn, giving more than £20m a year each and making up more than half of all foundation giving.

Most foundations give less than £10m a year, but represent one-third of giving, the report says.

Pharoah, the report’s main author, said: “Better data on philanthropy is increasingly vital. It helps provide a realistic context for assessing the feasibility of political aspirations for the role of private philanthropy in public welfare provision. We also need to know whether philanthropy is growing at a time of increasing private wealth, but continuing social inequality.”

Richard Jenkins, policy adviser at ACF, said: “Over the coming years this programme of research will track key indicators of the health of the foundation sector: its giving, its income and the value of its assets.

“This vital research will help us see the patterns of change in order for philanthropists, practitioners and policymakers to make better decisions based on an understanding of the factors that drive the sector."

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