Shadow minister urges foundations to spend endowments that are ‘just sitting there’

11 Oct 2023 News

Many foundations have large endowments that are “just sitting there” and could be released into the charity sector, the shadow minister for investment and small business has said. 

Speaking at an NPC fringe event at the Labour party conference, Rushanara Ali said “we need to think about how we grow the pie for this sector”. 

Following shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves’s speech on the economy, Ali said if Labour get into power there will need to be discussions about how more funding reaches the social investment sector.

She said this could be through tweaks in tax policy or an increase in philanthropy. 

“There’s a large amount that foundations can do that have large endowments that are just sitting there,” she said. 

“The biggest crisis in this country is child poverty. If they pooled their foundations together and resources and focused on hunger, so much could be done.

“The country needs you to spend your endowments.” 

Ali, who chairs the APPG on philanthropy and social investment, said “civil society uses people’s agencies at their best”.

NPC: ‘Civil society not spoken about as a key partner’

Ali was speaking on a panel with Dan Corry, chief executive of NPC, Clare Corran, CEO of Liverpool-based charity Positive Futures and shadow minister for civil society Lilian Greenwood. 

Former special advisor to Gordon Brown, Corry said that the sector has had “much less engagement with government after Big Society crashed to the ground” and it is “not spoken about as a key partner”. 

Greenwood told the event that she “wants to engage with the sector and thinks it’s really important.”

“Keir wants us to be developing a partnership with civil society and I don’t think we can do it without civil society,” she said. 

There is a “real and urgent need for change” and “civil society is an obvious partner” in that, said Greenwood. 

“If we work together, we can make a real difference to communities,” she said.

Charity CEO: ‘People have lost their trust in institutions’

Corran said that the Labour party has “got to rebuild trust on so many different levels”. 

While “Liverpool should be a Labour idyll”, after years of cuts from the government this is not the case, said Corran. 

She suggested the civil society brief in government move to the cabinet office to “put us on a level nationally” to “ensure we’re being listened to and our value is being listened to”. 

If Labour do get into power, they need to invest in depleted public services, she said. “There is a lot to be done but the biggest thing is to secure the trust.”

For more news, interviews, opinion and analysis about charities and the voluntary sector, sign up to receive the free Civil Society daily news bulletin here.

More on