By Andrew Holt

A majority of delegates (61.1%) at a recent Charity Symposium hosted by Rathbone Investment Management stated that returns on investments are their most significant source of income, compared to just 25.7% citing fundraising as their principal means of funding.

Only 12.4% receive their most significant financial support from legacies.

The survey, conducted at Rathbones’ annual event for charity trustees and their advisers, runs contrary to research from the NCVO suggesting that legacies, investments and fundraising all produced similar levels of income in 2009/2010.

NVCO reported that total voluntary sector investment income was £2.4 billion, fund raising income was £2.2 billion while legacy income was £1.8 billion in 2009/2010.

69.3% of those attending the seminar felt that this was not consistent with their experience.

Rathbones, a discretionary investment manager for not-for-profit organisations, found that attitudes towards social investment were much more mixed.

While 44.8% may consider incorporating social investment within their charity’s policy in future, some 27.6% did not anticipate doing so.

An equal proportion was either undecided or required more information before making this decision.

When questioned about regulation of the charity sector, delegates reported that raising thresholds for charity registrations, reporting and increasing audit requirements were potentially having a negative impact: 44.8% felt this to be the case compared to 35.6% who expected these issues to have a positive effect.

However, there was broad agreement that the Charities Act 2006 had had little impact on charities with 93.3% stating that it had had slight or no impact.

Ivo Clifton, Rathbones’ head of charities, said: “It is significant that charities list investments as their principal source of income rather than the more traditional channels of fundraising and legacies.

"This doubtless reflects the harsher economic climate facing donors. Equally, it underlines the important role an investment manager plays in working with a charity to understand its investment objectives and provide solutions tailored for the specific requirements of the not-for-profit sector.

“We believe that ultimately performance counts and 70% of those attending our annual Charities Symposium considered this to be a vital attribute.

"However, quality of service is also an important consideration for some 45.4% and we hope that our recent event demonstrates the more intangible areas of support we aim to provide our charity clients on an ongoing basis.”

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