UK foundations increase giving in 2019 despite fall in income


Alliance magazine


Almost two-thirds of the top 300 foundations increased their grant-making in real-terms in 2017/18. However, the majority of those increasing their grant-making also experienced a fall in their income, assets, or both, according to the new Foundation Giving Trends 2019 research published today by the Association of Charitable Foundations (ACF).

Total giving by the top 300 foundations in 2017/18 was £2.9 billion. This was down on the previous year due to a drop in giving by the UK’s largest grant-maker, Wellcome Trust (whose overall spending is set to increase but whose grants fell in that year). However, after adjusting for the Wellcome Trust, the overall trend showed a real increase of 9.9 per cent in grant-making.

Further analysis shows growth in both family and corporate foundation giving in 2017/18. Family foundation giving grew by 4 per cent, when Wellcome Trust is excluded, and corporate foundation giving grew by 2.2 per cenrt, when a large one-off transfer of funds is excluded.

Commenting on the report, ACF Chief Executive Carol Mack said: ‘This year’s research highlights foundations’ ability to respond to the needs of those they fund, even when their own fortunes are turbulent. In particular, our decision to focus this year’s special feature on trends beyond the numbers has given space to consider the external factors affecting foundations, from the question of board diversity to the urgent challenge of addressing the climate crisis.’

The research was carried out by Cathy Pharoah, Visiting Professor at the Centre for Charitable Giving at Cass Business School, and Dr Catherine Walker of The Researchery. Professor Pharoah said, ‘This year’s findings demonstrate how individual foundations address the challenges of an increasingly complex funding environment, and demonstrate the importance of digging deeper into the headline trends to see the stories that lie beneath.

Although overall giving continues to increase, it is notable that many foundations saw reductions in their income or assets which may be a driver for decision-making in future years.’

C0-author Dr Catherine Walker added, ‘Foundation Giving Trends contributes towards an increasingly necessary evidence base informing better decision-making and understanding of the voluntary sector and its ecosystem. The foundation landscape is often seen as unchanging, but our research shows year after year the dynamism and vibrancy contained within this stability. This year a number of notable trusts entered the tables for the first time.’

Read the full report here:

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