What price philanthropy?
The Charities Aid Foundation keep a careful eye on giving – by individuals, trusts and foundations and corporates. Their latest report on corporate giving by the FTSE 100 updates earlier ones and shows that £1.85 billion was donated. However using these figures extracted in 2023, the total financial donations have remained unchanged since 2016. That means that in real terms the donations have declined by 17%. As a percentage this was a fall from 2.4% to only 0.8% of pre-tax profits.
Within the FTSE 100 contributions differ so that some 24 donated at least 1% of their pre-tax profits - but that is two fewer than in 2016. The healthcare sector are the most generous whereby 5 companies donated 22% of the total contribution. The full report is here:
Being a Livery member it is interesting to compare these corporates to the (now) 111 Livery Companies of the City of London. Their report was produced in 2022 and review the financial giving and wider philanthropic support given by the Livery. I am pleased to say that the financial total was £75 million and this was indeed up 4.4% on the sum given in 2020 and a cumulative increase of 12% over three years. Whilst this detail was not shared in the report, it is the case that much of that came from a smaller group of the wealthier Liveries who give substantial sums from established charitable endowments whilst many other Livery Companies only receive gifts in year from the current membership which they then disperse. In any agglomeration there is this kind of disparity.
For corporates there is no compulsion to report publicly on these matters. Neil Heslop, the CEO of CAF, suggests that maybe this should be made mandatory (as it used to be) and that would align with the current transparency around ESG reporting. Liveries publish charitable accounts with the Charity Commission but these can be difficult to find with many Livery charities having different names to the actual Livery Company – for example named after a benefactor in that Livery.
There has long been a drive from the sector for the Government to appoint a Philanthropy Champion. As a trustee of Beacon Collaborative this is something we, and others, have been advocating and we hope to see come to fruition soon. The appointment of renowned philanthropist Rory Brooks as a new Board Member at the Charity Commission is a good sign of interest in the quarter. A Government appointment would bring additional support and a chance to put philanthropy (however much or little) at the heart of our economy and our responsibility as individuals and corporates.