The latest report on giving by wealthy individuals confirms a trend that is becoming clearer: that the giving habits of the wealthy are not being adversely affected by the economic downturn. According to the Financial Times (20 June), three-quarters of the 500 Britons and Americans surveyed for the Tomorrow’s Philanthropist report have not decreased their contributions to charity – and one in four has even increased their giving in the past year and a half. ‘The doom and gloom is encouraging the rich to be more generous, according to researchers from Barclays Wealth who have compiled a new study of charitable giving,’ says the FT. ‘Depleted investment portfolios, lower property prices and companies’ valuations have not pushed these individuals into scrimping on giving. Indeed, they would rather do away with new luxury cars, hiring staff, eating out and holidays than stop donating to favoured philanthropic causes, Barclays says. Only education fees remain untouchable.’
These findings are in line with those of a recent survey of UK philanthropists carried out by Coutts, the private banking arm of the Royal Bank of Scotland, reported in the July Alliance eBulletin, which found that 45 per cent would maintain the same level of donations while 42 per cent planned to increase their charitable giving.
Indeed, this is a trend that has been emerging for a while now. Writing for the UK Charity Market Monitor 2008, Beth Breeze of the newly established Centre for Philanthropy, Humanitarianism and Social Justice at the University of Kent argued that ‘whilst ordinary people are currently trimming their budgets. the richest individuals donate out of surplus wealth, rather than making sacrifices from their everyday income’. Their capacity to give is therefore not affected by factors such as the rising costs of food, fuel and mortgage payments.
Another trend that has been becoming increasingly marked, also noted by the FT article, is for the wealthy to turn to consulting groups and philanthropy advisers as they attempt to find a portfolio of ‘charities’ they should support and to make their giving increasingly effective.
Ellen Kelleher, ‘The go-getters become the go-givers’, Financial Times, 10 July 2009