Foundation grant-making up in 2013/14, remains below pre-crash levels

Children’s Investment Fund Foundation joined the top three UK charitable foundations by value of grants awarded in 2013/14, according to new research.

Wellcome Trust topped the list with £487.7m in giving in the year to September 2014. Comic Relief followed with £103.05m granted in its financial year, which ran through July 2013.

The Association of Charitable Foundations published the research, the latest in a series of Foundation Giving Trends studies led by Cathy Pharoah of the Centre for Giving and Philanthropy at the Cass Business School. Pears Foundation substantially supported the work.

Children’s Investment Fund Foundation’s £68.63m, given over the 12 months to August 2013, saw it overtake Leverhulme Trust which slipped to fifth spot with £50.50m giving in the year to December 2013. Garfield Weston Foundation held fourth place in giving £53.44m in the year to April 2014.

The study found foundation grant-making rose to £2.5bn in 2013/14, from £2.3bn in the previous corresponding period. Over 65 per cent of this year’s top 300 foundations increased their giving.

Foundation giving to charitable causes grew by £146m, as foundation income grew 3.6 per cent to £2.8bn. The report attributed the increase almost entirely to improved investment returns.

However, in real terms grant-making was still well short of the £2.9bn (adjusted) that was given prior to the financial crash of 2008.

Professor Cathy Pharoah said that better data on philanthropy is increasingly vital.

“It helps provide a realistic context for assessing the feasibility of political aspirations for the role of private philanthropy in public welfare provision. We also very much want to know whether philanthropy is growing at a time of increasing private wealth, but continuing social inequality.”

An ACF spokesperson said in a statement that the “vital research” will help provide insight into patterns of change, to help philanthropists, practitioners and policymakers make better decisions.

“This year’s findings are broadly positive, demonstrating the resilience of the foundation model, which at its best is the most transparent, intentional and efficient way of transforming private wealth into public benefit,” the spokesperson said.

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