Coutts’ million pound donors – scaling up the impact of philanthropic giving

Coutts has recently published its third Million Pound Donors Report written by Dr Iain Wilkinson Director of the Centre for Philanthropy, Humanitarianism and Social Justice at the University of Kent and Maya Prabhu Head of UK Philanthropy, Coutts & Co.

The report makes interesting reading. It discusses 201 donations of £1 million or over made by UK donors in 2008/9 with a combined value of just over £1.5 billion. Whilst this amount is heartening, it does, of course, pale in comparison to the vast amounts secured by Bill Gate’s ‘Giving Pledge’.

The Coutts report examined the motivation of those making hefty donations to good causes and found that philanthropists were increasingly concerned that their support should leverage additional income from other donors to maximise the impact of their giving. Whilst on the one hand this points to the need for increasing the opportunities for philanthropists to engage with one another through giving communities and networking forums, it also points to the need for organisations within The Third Sector to forge partnerships and, in so doing, to strengthen both the case for support and the impact of their work.

Secondly, it establishes that the area receiving the greatest increase in donations from high-level donors is higher education. The report concludes:

“This finding is likely to be interpreted as proof that incentive schemes are effective in encouraging philanthropic donations. In 2008 the UK government launched a £200 million ‘Matched Funding’ scheme which sought to encourage private donations to UK universities by providing ‘top-ups’ from the public purse”

It is beyond doubt that a similar scheme within the Arts and Charitable sector would provide similar incentives for philanthropists to give and if this were to be packaged alongside tax incentives enabling philanthropists to share their wealth whilst they live rather through traditional Legacy Giving, then there is no knowing exactly what benefits would materialise.

The opportunities to encourage philanthropy has never been more propitious. Last week Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Jeremy Hunt addressed senior representatives from the charitable sector at a Cause4 Philanthropy Seminar and confirmed that new Government measures to encourage philanthropic giving were to be announced by the end of the year. He spoke of the importance of nurturing an environment of philanthropic giving through building up endowments, legacy giving and recruiting young people into charitable giving from an early age. We eagerly await the results of this report.

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