Could charities work better together

London is a national and global centre of philanthropy. But it is also a city of extremes, where enormous wealth sits alongside poverty and exclusion. Despite this concentration of wealth and charitable activity, our research has found that charitable giving in the capital does not necessarily favour local causes.

This report looks at five forms of charitable giving in London: giving by trusts and foundations, giving by the general public, giving by the wealthiest Londoners, corporate philanthropy and social investment.

We found that:

  • Fewer Londoners are regularly giving their time and money to charity than they were five years ago.
  • There is a disconnect between the rapidly growing number of wealthy Londoners and their engagement with philanthropy.

London’s local charities and charitable activities are unevenly spread across the city:

  • While the number of charities focused on London causes increased in some inner London boroughs, most saw a fall in the five years to 2015. This was most pronounced in outer London boroughs.
  • The giving of time and skills by businesses and their employees tends to be concentrated in central and inner East London, making it hard for charities in outer London to attract support.

London needs a “whole city” approach to giving. Key recommendations include:

  • Understanding priorities: London’s giving leaders should develop a shared understanding of need across the capital.
  • Encourage all Londoners to give: London’s giving leaders should establish an annual London giving day.
  • Greater transparency: Major London funding organisations – foundations, local authorities and corporates – should be encouraged to provide greater transparency on grant data by publishing on 360Giving.
  • Support for London’s local charities: Public spending cuts have often hit smaller charities hardest. London civic leaders should help SME charities to build their fundraising capacity, with funded advice and training programmes.
  • Philanthropist hub: London Funders should review the need for a physical space to act as a centre for philanthropy, social investment and enterprise.

“This is the best piece of research I have seen on how to increase place-based giving in the UK. Although focused on London, there are lessons for every city in the UK in relation to gathering the evidence, convening leaders from all sectors, and being more proactive at engaging and directing philanthropy to meet specific, identified needs.”

Peter Lewis, CEO, Institute of Fundraising