One opportunity that emerges from the pandemic in the UK is the rise in philanthropy, and how a society leverages that boom. In 2020, over 1,700 grant-making charitable trusts were established in England and Wales, according to the Charity Commission’s register of charities. It is the highest number of such trusts to be established since 2012, and provides a valuable indication of philanthropic intention. This is unlikely to be an aberration.
The years 2008-12 witnessed a boom in the establishment of charitable trusts coinciding with the last economic crisis. That boom has had a lasting impact. According the Charity Commission‚’s register of charities, 13 percent of all grant-making charitable trusts in England & Wales were established between 2008-12, suggesting a strong correlation between philanthropy and economic adversity. Moreover, 17 percent of all such trusts expending over ¬£1m in the last financial year were established between 2008-12.
Global philanthropy is a rapidly growing sector. Harvard University concludes that the boom in philanthropy is explained by an increase in private wealth accumulation as well as government efforts to encourage philanthropic giving. Global High Net Worth Individual (HNWI) wealth has increased almost fourfold in the last 20 years. Harvard considers substantial private wealth as “a prerequisite of a robust philanthropic sector‚’. It is well-known that we have been witnessing a boom in global philanthropy over the past 20 years; what is less well understood is how economic downturns appear to accelerate giving, notably HNWI philanthropy.
The opportunity for society ‚’ both in the UK and globally ‚’ is to harness this extraordinary uplift in philanthropy and to begin putting some structure around this relatively new, very fragmented but highly valuable economic activity at a point in time when public finances, services and the voluntary sector are under immense strain.