Giving in the UK in general may have fallen as a result of the recession and millionaires may be less wealthy than they were (the Sunday Times Rich List 2009 reported a 37 per cent fall in the collective wealth of the 1,000 richest people based in the UK, while the Centre for Economics and Business Research noted a halving in the number of UK-based millionaires and a decline of 24 per cent in the wealth of the average UK millionaire since 2007), but the 2007/08 Coutts Million Pound Donors Report suggests that the very wealthy are still giving to charity.
But they are doing it differently. The report finds that more million pound donations are being given directly to charities and fewer being invested in foundations. The total value of ‘million pound donations’ in 2006/07 was £1.618 billion, falling in 2007/08 to £1.405 billion. However, says the report, the amount of money that million-pound donors have made available for spending directly on charitable recipients has actually increased from £705 million in 2006/07 to £808 million in 2007/08.
Report author Beth Breeze, lead researcher at the University of Kent’s Centre for the Study of Philanthropy, Humanitarianism and Social Justice (CPHSJ), which carried out the research, sees this as a sign of the resilience of UK philanthropy. She also sees a change of priorities brought on by the recession. ‘It is heartening to see that major philanthropists have reacted to the economic crisis by ensuring that more funds are being spent on front-line charitable activity rather than being put away in charitable foundations,’ she said.
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