Client Affairs

Donors Choose Direct Route Through Crisis - Coutts

Will Robins 10 November 2009

Donors Choose Direct Route Through Crisis - Coutts

More philanthropic donations are being made directly to projects, as research by UK private bank Coutts & Co reveals shifts in giving.

The Million Pound Donors Report, the second by Coutts in association with the Centre for Philanthropy at the University of Kent, tracked the quantity, size and destination of charitable donations worth £1 million or more in the UK during 2007/08.

Although the total value of donations worth over £1 million has dropped by 13 per cent - from £1.618 billion in 2006/07 to £1.405 billion in 2007/08 - the amount made available for direct spending on charitable recipients increased by over £100 million, from £705 million in 2006/07 to £808 million in 2007/08.

"Not only does this report demonstrate that UK philanthropy is far more resilient than many people have suggested, it is heartening to see that major philanthropists have reacted to the economic crisis by ensuring that more funds are being spent on front-line charitable activity rather than being put away in charitable foundations to be spent at some point in the future,” said Beth Breeze, author of the report and researcher at the Centre for the Study of Philanthropy, Humanitarianism and Social Justice at the University of  Kent.

The average donation in 2007/08 was worth £7.4 million, down from £8.4 million in 2006/07. The median - middle size of donation - fell only slightly from £2 million to £1.9 million, while the mode - most common - remained £1 million.

The majority of "million pound donors" are individuals at 51 per cent, followed by professional foundations at 38 per cent, leaving corporations trailing at 11 per cent.

Yet while fewer funds have made their way to charity coffers, the apparent appetite for direct giving may mean potential donors need more information on how their money will be spent.  

“Charities need to change the way they market to wealthy individuals by getting to know them first and by educating them about the causes they are looking to support. And bankers need to dare to introduce philanthropy into conversation with their clients and make it easier to give," said  Mark Evans, head of the wealth institute at Coutts.

The most popular causes were higher education, arts and culture and international aid and development.

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