Philanthropy: rhetoric and reality
There is mismatch between rhetoric and reality in current thinking on philanthropy. That was a key message coming from the evidence presented by Professor Cathy Pharoah of the Centre for Charitable Giving and Philanthropy during her talk at our AGM.
Some data really stood out – notably, a sobering graph showing that the percentage of household income given to charity by all UK households has flat-lined for over 30 years. At 0.4 % it’s actually less than we spend on cheese. The resulting hypothesis – that successive efforts to grow giving have done little more than reshape the recipe, rather than make a bigger cake overall – means a stark message in these times of intense policy focus on philanthropy. Can all the tactics set out in the Giving White paper and elsewhere make a step change? Or is something more fundamental required? Professor Pharoah argued convincingly that growing a greater culture of giving required more focus on the real demographics of the philanthropy marketplace – particularly women and older donors – more effective support for giving through community foundations and others, and some more radical ideas for incentivising gifts through the tax system. Given the response from our attendees to the talk, there will be much discussion in North East circles about the implications for our area, where we have the most successful community foundation outside North America, but also some of the most acute social and economic issues in the country. You can consider the challenges for yourself by reading Professor Pharoah’s slides here.