Foundation grant-making has increased to a nominal record of £2.7bn according to a new report.
While still falling short of the pre-recession peak of £2.5bn (£2.9bn adjusted), the findings demonstrate foundations’ ongoing commitment to delivering social good despite fluctuations in voluntary (-19%) and overall (-2%) income levels. Though the £185m increase in giving by The Wellcome Foundation gave a rosy bloom to the overall figure, even discounting it there was a healthy 6% growth in grant spending. 61% of foundations saw a real increase in grantmaking,
The figure has emerged from the latest in a series of annual research reports, Foundation Giving Trends; led by Professor Cathy Pharoah of the Centre for Giving and Philanthropy at the Cass Business School, published by the Association of Charitable Foundations (ACF), and substantially supported by the Pears Foundation. It says £17.8bn was given to UK charities in total in 2014/15, with foundation giving accounting for 15% and individual and major gifts making up 64% of the total.
The report, which ranks the Top 300 Foundations by the value of their grant-making and provides aggregated data on the size, shape and nature of foundations’ contribution to UK civil society, also details the specific growth trajectories of family and corporate foundations. It shows family giving growing by around 5% per year and now accounting for almost two thirds of the total grant-making, and corporate giving rising by 40.6% in real terms over the past five years, to a total of £0.3 bn.
For the first time, the report also explores where the money was spent, analysing 16,500 grants and detailing which sectors received the most funding, with education topping the pile followed by health and arts/culture.
The value of the combined net assets of the Top 300, which largely comprise investments, fixed assets and liabilities, reached a new high of £54 billion in 2014/15. Growth, however, slowed to a real 2%.
On the impact of the report, an ACF spokesperson said: “Better information plays an important role in better decisions. We hope that practitioners and policy-makers use this research to better understand the currents and drivers that propel philanthropy in the UK. Once again the findings show that foundations are a unique social asset and that at their best they are the most transparent, intentional and efficient way of transforming private wealth into public benefit.”
Professor Cathy Pharoah said: “The consistency of the research approach in this series enables us to be confident that we can track, and ultimately respond to, change in the foundation world. New innovations this year give us an even richer picture of the philanthropic landscape and contribute to an increased evidence-base on this vital part of the civil society landscape.”