June 15, 2023

What Does The ‘Giving List’ Tell Us About Philanthropic Activity in the UK?

Author Natalie Pinon, Director of Development

The Sunday Times recently released their 2023 ‘Giving List’, compiled in partnership with the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF). It paints an interesting picture of the state of charitable giving in the UK.

Encouragingly, the total amount given in the UK last year increased by £2 billion (or 18.7 per cent) compared to 2021, rising from £10.7 billion to £12.7 billion, making 2022 the UK’s most generous year ever. This will be welcome news to a charitable sector still reeling from the pandemic and cost of living crisis.

Interestingly, though, the notable increase in philanthropic funding did not come from an influx of new donors but an increase in the level of donations from existing donors. The philanthropists on this year’s Giving List collectively gave £3.4 billion to charity personally or through their charitable foundations or businesses, up by £1.1 billion from last year’s total giving.

So, what else does the Giving List tell us? The climate agenda and protection of our planet remains a key area of focus for some of the country’s leading philanthropists. Sir Chris Hohn, who led this year’s Giving List, stated that “climate change is the greatest crisis of our time,” while fellow Giving List philanthropist Suneil Setiya recently vowed to give $100 million a year to climate change. The climate crisis will continue to require a collective response from individuals, communities, businesses, and governments around the world over the years ahead.

The Giving list also shows encouraging signs that a younger generation of HNWIs is making philanthropic activity a routine part of their work, regardless of how they have made their wealth. Several young sports stars, musicians, models or those who have inherited family wealth all feature on the Giving List, just as they did last year, setting an encouraging example to people – especially young adults – who take an interest in their lives.

While the Giving List only features the top 100 donors in the UK, we should take heart in knowing that philanthropy has become more accessible to wider sections of society – especially the younger generation – thanks to the rise of digital donation platforms that make it easier for donors to contribute on a regular basis or join forces to support specific causes with digital natives.

While there are reasons to be optimistic about the future of philanthropic giving, the cost-of-living concerns in the UK today have been well documented and they continue to have an impact on charitable activity. The overall level of participation in civic-minded activity has still not returned to pre-pandemic levels. The proportion of people volunteering in the past 12 months has also fallen from 16% in 2018 to 13% in 2022 – leaving 1.6 million fewer people volunteering in the UK compared to five years ago.

However, the UK remains a generous nation. The sense of social responsibility and a desire to contribute to the well-being of their communities remains strong among large sections of the population, and that is something we can all take great heart from.

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About the Author

Natalie Pinon is Director of Development at NPT UK. She has over 15 years of experience working with philanthropists and impact investors to manage their giving.