Charitable trusts and foundations realise now is not the
time to turn off the tap of support for Britain’s
charities, according to new research published today by
the Charity Commission.
Firm Foundations, a snapshot of how trusts and
foundations are responding to the economic downturn, shows
that despite the recession, charitable trusts and foundations
are committed to supporting Britain’s charities at
a time when they need it most.
There was a clear indication from these trusts that levels
of grant-making are, despite the recession, being sustained.
The report also found that trusts and foundations had adopted
a sustainable approach which would allow them to offer this
vital support not just now, but into the future.
Key findings of the report include:
These trusts showed a strong commitment to supporting charities
and their beneficiaries through these tough times and long
into the future. They said it was “wrong to reduce
funding in the face of increased need.”
The downturn has had a positive effect on governance in
the trusts and foundations interviewed. They are taking
a strategic and considered approach, with trustees reflecting
more on their collective board responsibilities.
Although levels of grant-making are currently being sustained,
vigilance would be needed to monitor the full effects of
Andrew Hind, chief executive, Charity Commission, said:
“It’s really good news that these trusts and
foundations are showing a clear commitment to charities
and those they work with during these difficult times.
"Their historical stewardship of investments has clearly
stood them in good stead during the ongoing downturn, leaving
them well prepared to continue to support their beneficiaries
in what may well be challenging times ahead."
David Emerson, chief executive, Association of Charitable
Foundations, added: "I greatly welcome the Commission's
findings that also support our own recent research which
found that the outlook for grant-making is - thus far –
"Amidst the ongoing atmosphere of speculation in the
financial sector, these trusts and foundations have continued
to take a calm, measured approach in managing their endowments.
"They have planned ahead to ensure not only that their
charitable assets remain secure, but that they will continue
to provide an income stream for many operating charities
and their beneficiaries at a time when the need for such
work is greater than ever.”
The report also identified a number of issues which would
merit further discussion and debate, and the Commission
is planning a seminar to explore these in the Autumn.
In-depth interviews were conducted for the Commission during
April 2009 with nineteen of the largest grant-makers, whose
spending makes up the majority of the total contribution
(in terms of grant expenditure) of the trusts and foundation