It’s a boom time for major giving, says nfpSynergy report

The Major Donor Giving Research Report gathers together the findings of research on major donors from the past five years

The UK is experiencing a “boom time” for major giving, an nfpSynergy report that collates available research on major donors has concluded.

The report, Major Donor Giving Research Report: an updated synthesis of research into major donors and philanthropic giving, published today by the research consultancy, summarises the findings of research on major donors from the past five years.

The study points out that much has changed since nfpSynergy compiled a similar report five years ago, particularly in the wake of the vote to leave the European Union. But despite fears about the impact of Brexit on the economy, the number of billionaires has increased to record levels since the vote, the report says.

“Whilst data on major donor giving since the Brexit vote is not yet available, major donor fundraising continues to be a fast-growing element of UK charity fundraising activity, and a small proportion of ‘major’ donors disproportionately shape giving in the UK,” the report says.

“There is now credible year-on-year data to substantiate claims of it being (at least pre-Brexit) a ‘boom time’ for UK philanthropy.”

The report draws on the Coutts Million Pound Donors Report 2016 by University of Kent academic Beth Breeze to support its conclusions, and also highlights recommendations from Breeze’s report in collaboration with Theresa Lloyd, Richer Lives: why rich people give, both which called on charities to address their lack of confidence in their own competence at asking for major donations.

Joe Saxton, co-founder of nfpSynergy, said: “Most people I talk to would say that major donors are going to be a bigger part of the funding mix because the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation will make it hard to talk to large databases of donors.

“Major donors will be more likely to feature in people’s work and thinking going forward.”

The report points out that there is no set definition of what constitutes a major donor, although Breeze suggests £5,000 as an industry standard, and instead says they are more generally defined as people who make large personal donations to charitable organisations

It takes into account research from the US, which it concludes remains significantly ahead of any other country in terms of giving, having given $258.5bn (£197bn) to charity in 2015, compared with $17.4bn (£13.2bn) in the UK. This might be due, research suggests, to differences between the tax regimes and the tendency for giving in the US to be more public than in the UK.

But the report says there is more to large-scale philanthropy than money.

“It remains easy to define major donors in financial terms, yet this is to underestimate the breadth of engagement that major donors may offer the charity sector, whether this is time, advice, expertise and contacts,” it says.

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Income at the Alzheimer’s Society passes £100m for the first time

The charity was helped by a 12 per cent year-on-year rise in voluntary income, which was up to £65.8m

Annual income at the Alzheimer’s Society’s passed £100m for the first time last year due, the charity’s latest accounts show.

Its accounts for the year to 31 March 2017, which were published on the Companies House website yesterday, show an income of £103.6m, compared with £97.9m the previous year.

This was helped by a 12 per cent increase in the charity’s voluntary income, which rose from to £65.8m from £58.7m during the previous year.

The increase follows a rebrand by the charity earlier this year, which saw the introduction of a new logo in the style of a forget-me-not flower in an effort to make the charity’s branding seem warmer and more accessible.

The accounts show that the charity spent £109.5m in 2016/17, with research expenditure going above £10m for the first time and fundraising spending rising from £16.4m to £20.5m, which was down to extra investment as part of the charity’s expansion strategy.

The accounts also show total reserves fell from £36.1m to £35m, of which £26.1m was unrestricted. The charity says in the accounts that the fall in reserves “was conscious and controlled as we invest for future growth and innovation”.

The highest earner at the charity received between £150,001 to £160,000, the accounts show. This was paid to a long-standing staff member who was given a severance package during the year. 

A statement from the society said: “The top income paid to an individual fits into the £150,000 to £160,000 salary bracket. This includes the full annual salary and severance package paid to an individual, long-standing member of staff.

“Packages like these are entirely exceptional. They are only ever made in agreement with our board and subject to evidence that demonstrates the severance package is in the best interests of Alzheimer’s Society’s charitable purpose.”

The accounts show that the charity paid redundancy costs of £389,000, compared with £104,000 the previous year.

The accounts show that Alzheimer’s Society trebled its research funding portfolio to £30.5m – its highest level – including the creation of three centres of excellence in care and prevention research.

Of the research funding from the charity, £9.2m worth of grants were handed out to new research, the accounts show.

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CAF pays out more than £500m for the first time

The accounts of of the Charities Aid Foundation show it paid out £539.1m in the year to 30 April, compared with £462.4m the previous year

Donations paid to charities by the Charities Aid Foundation have broken through the £500m mark for the first time, the charity’s most recent accounts show.

According to the charity’s accounts for the year to 30 April 2017, CAF paid £539.1m to charities, compared with £462.4m the previous year.

CAF also received a record £611m in donations and legacies, up from £523.5m the year before.

This means that CAF’s total funds have increased from more than £1.1bn to almost £1.3bn.

The value of the total assets controlled by the charity has also increased, from almost £2.2bn to approximately £2.4bn.

The accounts say that CAF has also completed its withdrawal from a multi-employer defined-benefit pension plan, which will limit its exposure to increased pension liabilities.

Overall investment income has increased from £16.7bn in 2015/16 to £19.1bn in 2016/17, and CAF also launched an investment account for the charity sector.

According to the accounts, the results have come even though “broader uncertainties arose as a result of the EU referendum and the US election, which came against a background of an already weak economic recovery”.

Three senior members of staff were among the top earners at CAF, all earning between £160,001 and £170,000, the accounts show.

The amount raised by CAF Donate, an online fundraising platform, grew by 10 per cent to £25m, the accounts show.

Sir John Low, chief executive of CAF, said: “We are overwhelmed by the level of generosity among the people and businesses that work through CAF to support the causes they care about.

“Despite economic uncertainty, we have been able to help our donors give well over £500m to charities, amazing resources that will strengthen communities and transform lives all over the world.

“And we are delighted that so many philanthropists trust CAF to steward and grow their major donations so they can continue giving strategically long into the future.”

Earlier this year, CAF Bank, which is owned by CAF, announced that it had more than doubled its lending in the year to 30 April 2016.

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Virtual mass-participation fundraising events enter top 25 for first time

Cancer Research UK’s more traditional Race for Life tops the income list for the fourth time in a row, but the British Heart Foundation’s MyMarathon has come in at 19th on the list, raising £1m

Fundraising events in which people participate digitally rather than in person have entered the list of the top 25 highest-earning mass-participation events for the first time.

The participation event that raised the most money for charity in 2016 was Cancer Research UK’s more traditional Race for Life, which topped the list for the fourth year in a row with £48m raised, according to a report compiled by the events company massive.

Second on the list was Macmillan Cancer Support’s World’s Biggest Coffee Morning, which raised £29.5m. The grant-making cancer charity Walk the Walk came in third with £8m raised through its Moonwalk event.

Massive has been compiling the list since 2013, but this year has been the first time that virtual-participation events – in which people track their physical activity online to raise money and awareness of a cause – have made it onto the list.

The British Heart Foundation’s MyMarathon, in which people run the 26.2 miles of a traditional marathon at a time and place, and in a way, that suits them, was the 19th biggest fundraiser, raising just over £1m. And at number 21, CRUK’s Walk All Over Cancer, which allows people to complete walking challenges, also raised about £1m.

Macmillan also had a virtual event in the top 25: its Outrun event, in which people choose how far they will run over the course of a month, raised £902,000.

The report says: “Outside the top 25 we’ve seen virtual events launched by a range of charities, based around running, cycling and walking.

“Whilst these campaigns have significantly lower overheads than physical events, whether these types of activity can achieve the scale and longevity of their physical equivalents and how developments in technology will enhance these opportunities remains to be seen.”

Macmillan and CRUK dominated the table, accounting for 11 of the events on the list and almost three-quarters of the total income reported by all the events combined.

Events that had been running for more than 10 years made up a third of the table and accounted for 76 per cent of the income, but 10 of the events featured had begun since 2012.

Although these newer events account for a total of only £25m of fundraised income, the report says their income is growing while income for the older events tended to fall in 2016.

The fastest-growing events were the Alzheimer’s Society’s Memory Walk, which grew by 69 per cent to raise £6.6m, Macmillan’s Brave the Shave, which grew by 62 per cent to £7.2m, and another Macmillan event, The Longest Day, which grew by 39 per cent to £1.6m.

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Mixed views emerge on Rob Wilson’s time as Minister for Civil Society

Wilson yesterday lost his Reading East seat to Labour on a surprising night for UK politics

Voluntary sector leaders have given mixed verdicts on Rob Wilson’s time as the Minister for Civil Society, after he lost his seat in yesterday’s general election.

Some praised Wilson’s handling of a difficult few years for the charity sector during his time in post, but another said his tenure had proved “a little bit disappointing”.

Wilson lost his Reading East seat to Labour last night in a dramatic election result that saw the Conservatives lose their overall majority in parliament.

Wilson, who became Minister for Civil Society in 2014 after the resignation of Brooks Newmark, had been the MP for Reading East seat since 2005 and had a majority of 6,250 going into the election.

But a 16-percentage-point swing to Labour meant he was defeated, with Matt Rodda becoming the new MP for the constituency.

Neil Cleeveley, chief executive of the local infrastructure body Navca, said that although Wilson’s tenure did have some positives, his time as charities minister would be regarded as a “little bit disappointing” overall.

Cleeveley said: “The focus he has had on small and medium-sized charities has been very welcome.”

But he added that this focus did not translate into useful measures to help local charities provide services to their communities, particularly when cuts to local authority budgets were taken into account.

“There has been a bit of an over-focus on the contractual relationship between charities and public services,” Cleeveley said.

More creative thought and the use of collaboration and grants would have been welcome in terms of helping smaller charities become involved in the provision of public services, he added.

On Twitter, Joe Saxton, co-founder of the consultancy nfpSynergy, welcomed Wilson’s departure.

Another person on Twitter reminded Wilson of his comment after the 2015 election, when he told somebody who asked him about homelessness not to be a “bad loser”.

But others paid tribute to Wilson’s work over the past three years, with many noting his role in leading the government’s response to the media backlash against charity fundraising practices in 2015.

Sir Stuart Etherington, chief executive of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, said Wilson would be remembered as a minister who had led reforms to fundraising, such as the introduction of the Fundraising Regulator.

“He was instrumental in helping to achieve a sensible solution to the problems in fundraising that came to the fore in 2015,” said Etherington, who led the review of fundraising self-regulation and whose proposals Wilson accepted. “Through this, I believe his legacy will include helping to strengthen trust in charities.”

Etherington also praised Wilson’s interest in small charities and hoped his successor would continue to work on the relationship between charities and public services.

Vicky Browning, chief executive of the charity chief executives body Acevo, thanked Wilson for his work during a “difficult period for charities”.

She said: “Once a new government is established, it should look to fill this brief as soon as possible. Charities and social enterprises are the backbone of our society and ought not to be left long without representation at the highest level of government. We look forward to working with the new Minister for Civil Society once appointed.”

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John Low, chief executive of the Charities Aid Foundation, thanked Wilson for his hard work as Minister for Civil Society, and praised his role in setting up the National Citizen Service and his support for the #givingtuesday campaign.

“We wish him and his family all the best for the future and look forward to continuing our positive working relationship with his successor,” Low said.

A statement from the Small Charities Coalition thanked Wilson for his “engagement on issues facing small charities” and expressed hope that work on making public sector commissioning work for small charities would “form the foundation for improving public sector contracting”.

Other charity sector figures paid tribute on Twitter to Wilson’s time in office:

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