More, Better, Stronger, Together - Why London Funders is excited about the future of philanthropy in London

The publication this week of Centre for London’s report “More, Better, Stronger, Together: A strategic review of giving in London” challenges everyone involved in investing in London’s civil society to work differently, through adopting a whole city approach, to achieve an ambitious set of recommendations.

London Funders has been contributing to this research since the beginning, and welcomes the recommendations of the report – set as they are against a backdrop of some worrying statistics.  The report highlights that the proportion of Londoners who regularly donate to charity has declined by 8% over the last five years (from 81% in 2013-14 to 73% in 2017-18), and the proportion of Londoners who volunteer at least once a month has fallen by 3% (from 24% in 2013-14 to 21% in 2017-18), noting that these figures for giving and volunteering are lower than the rest of the country.  Not to mention, as highlighted in an earlier report by Centre for London, charitable activities are unevenly spread across the city, and the high proportion of national charities based in London masks that there is lower local activity on average than the rest of the UK.

However, there is a huge amount of potential to strengthen London as a global centre of philanthropy and to reverse these trends. London has one of the highest proportions of high-net-worth individuals in the world, the high value of housing can be harnessed for legacy giving and of course London is the economic centre of the UK, and is brimming with businesses (of all sizes) who could be engaged more in charitable activities. Just from work that London Funders has been involved in over recent years we have seen the potential behind some of the recommendations in the report.  Our collaboration on The Way Ahead has taken a systems-change approach to London’s civil society support to ensure that it continues to thrive, and that small and local charities are well supported and signposted, through working across sectors. Our work with the London’s Giving schemes also shows encouraging collaboration within individual local authority areas, and has shown the vital role that business can play alongside civil society, public bodies and funders.

Of the 14 recommendations in the report, eight point towards London Funders as responsible for their delivery, or for supporting their achievement.  These include many that we have already begun working towards as part of our 2018-21 strategy (encouraging our members to publish on 360 Giving, our work towards publishing a regular ‘state of giving’ report, as well as our commitment to encouraging and enabling member collaboration).  We welcome the other recommendations in the report, and will now begin the work of turning these into actions, alongside colleagues from across the capital.

From its inception this work has been an example of how different sectors need to come together – the initial scoping was funded by an institutional investor (City Bridge Trust), the research and report by a philanthropist (Sir Harvey McGrath), it was conducted by a charity (Centre for London), and supported by a cross-sector advisory group.  Now the report is published, we are looking forward to working with other London leaders to improve the giving landscape in London, recognising our unique role in convening members to have cross-sectoral conversations to ensure that we give more, better and together for the benefit of London’s communities.

by James Banks, Director of London Funders