May 4, 2023

The King’s Coronation – Shining a Light on Volunteering in the UK

Author John Canady, Chief Executive Officer

People in the UK and many around the world are preparing for the unique occasion of King Charles III’s Coronation this weekend.

It will be a historic moment – the first Coronation for 70 years and only the 40th in almost 1,000 since William the Conqueror was crowned on Christmas Day in 1066.

The Coronation of The King and Queen Consort will be marked across the country with people encouraged to celebrate alongside friends, families and their communities. Events will include the Coronation Service at Westminster Abbey, a concert at Windsor Castle, street parties and a day dedicated to volunteering and public service.

Beyond the celebrations, it will also be a moment for individuals and commentators to reflect upon the role of the Monarchy. As well as the constitutional role in the UK and as Head of State of 14 other countries, one of the main areas of the Sovereign’s work is promoting and supporting charity and voluntary service.

The Royal Family’s support to the charitable sector and civil society is well-documented and has been carried out for decades, if not centuries. The King has been Patron or President of over 800 charities in his lifetime. Alongside other members of his family, the Monarchy has links with organisations supporting every community in the UK.

Sometimes described as a ‘Charitable Entrepreneur’, one of the King’s most significant achievements has been the success of The Prince’s Trust, which he set up in 1976, and has helped over one million young people to date from disadvantaged backgrounds into education, employment or training. Another notable aspect of the King’s life has been his leadership in promoting inter-faith collaboration and dialogue between different communities. It is therefore of little surprise that we will see elements of the Coronation’s events celebrate his dedication to charities, communities and young people.

Over the course of the weekend, many in the charitable and philanthropic sector will take particular interest in the Big Help Out, which is a huge public engagement campaign to promote, showcase and champion volunteering. Taking place on Monday 8 May, it aims to make it easy for people to recognise opportunities to volunteer in their local community and get involved.

Volunteering plays a vital role in the social fabric of the UK, promoting community cohesion and a sense of ‘togetherness.’ Many of the 168,000 charities in England and Wales are also heavily dependent on the 28 million people in the UK who volunteer every year (19 million of whom do so every month).

While those figures sound impressive, volunteering numbers have been steadily declining since the start of the pandemic. The Big Help Out’s goal is to get more people to consider volunteering, especially those who don’t ordinarily do so.

The importance of giving time, skills and energy to benefit others and give back to community is an important aspect of charitable activity and well-recognised by the philanthropists we work with.

As many engage with Coronation events over the coming weekend, they may well reflect on the Royal Family’s longstanding impact on the charitable sector and perhaps feel inspired to lend a hand and help bolster the UK’s volunteering sector.

About the Author

John Canady, CEO of National Philanthropic Trust UK, has 25 years of experience working across the business, nonprofit and government sectors. He specializes in creating and managing philanthropic funds for donors and family offices around the world who wish to base their philanthropy from the UK.