Charities and grassroots organisations based in outer-London are struggling to attract corporate support amid the highly concentrated charitable work taking place within central London, a new report has revealed.
The report, published by Centre for London and entitled, More, better, together: A strategic review of giving in London, reviewed the scale and impact of different forms of charitable giving, including giving by the general public, giving by the wealthiest Londoners, corporate philanthropy and social investment.
It found that although corporate philanthropy is growing, giving time and skills tends to be overly concentrated around central London locations and on particular causes, making it “extremely difficult” for charities in outer London boroughs to attract corporates.
The report found the uneven spreading of local charities and charitable activities places “significant pressure” on boroughs in outer London where poverty rates have been increasing.
While the number of charities focused on London causes increased in some inner London boroughs, such as Hackney (+7 per cent) and Tower Hamlets (+8 per cent), most saw a fall in the five years to 2015. This was most pronounced in outer London boroughs, including Croydon (-7 per cent) and Kingston (-5 per cent).
Against this backdrop, the report suggested that London should adopt a “whole city” approach to giving – where leading public sector, business and civic organisations work together to “develop a shared understanding of philanthropic priorities and ensure resources are used effectively in areas of need”.
The report outlined these recommendations as the following:
• Develop understanding of need: London’s giving leaders (including the Mayor of London, the City of London, London Funders, Trust for London, London Councils, London’s two Community Foundations, and the new London Plus) should develop a richer understanding of need in the capital.
• Encourage all Londoners to give: Londoners’ generosity has been best expressed in recent years when galvanised around a particular event or cause. London's giving leaders should establish an annual London Giving Day.
• Promote legacy giving among property owners: Only one in twenty Londoners leaves a charitable legacy. London’s giving leaders should review how best to increase the proportion of Londoners leaving a legacy, with a particular focus on property owners, many of whom have seen their wealth increase dramatically in recent decades.
• Support for charities focused on London issues: Public spending cuts have often hit smaller charities hardest. London civic leaders should therefore help SME charities build up their fundraising capacity, with funded advice and training programmes.
Londoners giving less
While corporate philanthropy is on the rise, results found Londoners are giving less money and time to charity than they were five years ago.
Figures suggested the proportion of Londoners who regularly donate to charity has declined by 8 per cent over the past five years, down from 81 per cent to 75 per cent.
The proportion of Londoners who volunteer at least once a month has also fallen by 3 per cent, from 24 per cent in 2013-14 to 21 per cent in 2017-18.
Meanwhile, the number of Londoners with more than £24.2 million in assets rose by 41 per cent between 2005 and 2015.
Commenting on the report, Centre for London director Ben Rogers said: "Londoners’ generosity in recent years has been galvanised around a particular event or cause. The outpouring of public support in the aftermath of the Grenfell fire was a humbling example of this.
"But despite these moments of generosity, London's charities and those they help are feeling the impact of a decline in regular volunteering and giving.
"We know that people and organisations are more likely to give when they are confident that their time and money will be well-directed. That's why we think the greatest opportunity lies in encouraging a more joined-up approach to giving across the city.
"At the centre of this, the Mayor should step up his role as a champion of giving, celebrating philanthropists and volunteers, and promoting giving across the capital – especially to London-focused charities and local causes."
London Funders director James Banks added: "Centre for London’s report is brimming with great ideas for how we can work together across funding sectors, alongside the generosity of Londoners, to better direct time and money where it's needed most.
“London Funders' members collectively invest hundreds of millions of pounds into London's civil society each year.
“We welcome this report's recommendations to work with corporate and individual philanthropists to grow this further, and in particular to look at how London's local charities can better access the resources they need to enable Londoners to live better lives."