UK charities should not seek Royal patrons expecting them to help much, new research shows


Alliance magazine


A Royal patronage for your charity may not lead to as much as you hope, according to new research published by research organisation and consultancy Giving Evidence. The report shows that almost 75 per cent of UK charities with Royal patron had zero public engagements with them last year; Royals do far more public engagement with charities set up themselves than with pre-existing charities of which they are patrons; and there is no discernible effect on a charity’s revenue from having a Royal patron.

Other findings from the report include that fewer than half of Royal patronages are registered UK charities – the other patronages include parts of the military, cities, and private clubs. Of the charity patronages, most were for relatively uncontroversial causes such as the environment, animals, culture, and sport. The sectors with the fewest Royal patronages are housing, employment, social services, and religion.

Giving Evidence found no ‘macro’ effect on generosity when it came to Royal patronages. Within English regions, Royal patronages were concentrated largely in the regions where the Royals reside, yet it was not the case that those regions saw an increase in giving. This trend held true internationally as well – countries with Royal families are not more generous than those without.

According to Caroline Fiennes, Giving Evidence Director, writing in an op-ed for Alliance, there was no discernible evidence that that Royal patronages help charities. ‘We also found no reason that donors should take a Royal patronage to indicate that a charity is particularly effective,’ Fiennes wrote.

Alliance Magazine published a whole issue on Royal philanthropy – across various countries – and it was really striking how unwilling people were to ask critical questions about what royal involvement in philanthropy is and how it works,’ commented Alliance Executive Editor Charles Keidan. ‘It’s great, therefore, that Giving Evidence has asked some questions about what the UK Royal family does with charities and whether/when their involvement helps. It’s great too that they have been able to answer some of them. I hope the data in this report helps increase public understanding of the influence of royals in society.’

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