Archive for April, 2013

The Giving List, the Giving Pledge, and setting timelines for philanthropic giving

April 26, 2013

The Giving List, published annually alongside The Sunday Times Rich List, celebrates the philanthropy of Britain and Ireland’s most generous individuals. Ordered by proportion of wealth donated over the last year, the number one spot this year is occupied by Jersey-based David Kirch thanks to his recent £100m pledge to the island’s elderly. Giving List stalwarts Christopher Cooper-Hohn and Lord Sainsbury follow Kirch in second and third place, and newcomers Talal Shakerchi and Martin Lewis are ranked fourth and fifth on the list respectively.

Looking at the list as a whole, it’s encouraging  to see that there has been an overall increase in giving of 21% by Britain and Ireland’s wealthiest constituents, a finding which seems to run contrary to decline in charitable giving among the general public as reported by CAF in November last year.  This actually represents a decline in the total proportion of wealth donated compared to last year’s List; however, this is attributed to the fact that there has been a sharp increase in the overall fortunes of those on the Rich List.

There are plenty of other observations from the Giving List which give confidence. Not least the fact that there are several newcomers to this year’s list (highest rated are Talal Shakerchi and Martin Lewis); that the overall number of £1m plus gifts has risen over the last year; and that six of the wealthiest families have made the Top 150 of the Giving List for the first time.

Another interesting trend which is teased out by the List’s researchers is that of the growing desire amongst the wealthy to create a philanthropic legacy. They link this desire to generate the legacy during ones lifetime with the global success of the Giving Pledge, the campaign started by the Gates and Buffet to encourage the super-wealthy to give the majority of their assets to good causes. This year six (and soon to be seven) philanthropists on the List have signed the Pledge, and five of whom have made or will make their commitment in 2013.

Earlier this year, the Institute conducted a survey of its network of philanthropists to gauge their attitudes towards the Giving Pledge. We found that the issue of family and philanthropic legacy was one of great importance to respondents: in fact, a “wish to pass wealth to future generations” was the second most popular reason given by respondents for not signing the Pledge. The most popular reason was a “wish to remain private about my philanthropy”. For those who had signed the Pledge or adopted its principles, the most common motivation was “a wish to devote the majority of wealth to good causes”, a response which garnered eight times as many votes than a “belief that wealth is a burden on future generations”.

For many, issues of legacy and the proportion of one’s wealth one chooses to give away are closely linked to the timeframe over which philanthropic assets are deployed. Indeed, one respondent to our Giving Pledge survey said that in addition to signing the Pledge or adopting its principles, they intend to deploy all of their philanthropic assets in their lifetime due to their belief that this will affect more meaningful social change than if they left funds in a perpetual trust.

To drill deeper into these issues, and to respond to interest from the Alumni of our donor education programmes, the Institute is conducting a new survey of its network. On this occasion, we are looking at the different periods of time over which donors choose to deploy their philanthropic assets and how time-lines chosen affect and relate to philanthropic activity. The results will help to build a picture of whether philanthropists consider the issue of time-line as important to their philanthropy, and what affects factors affect the decisions made. The Institute has considered these issues before, most recently in our 2010 research report “The Power of Now: Spend out trusts and foundations in the UK”, and we hope that this new work will build on our previous research to provide useful insight for philanthropists and the philanthropic community alike.

If you would like more information about our new research on setting timelines for giving, please contact Daisy Wakefield at daisy@instituteforphilanthropy.org or on +44 (0) 207 040 0262.