Foundation Giving Trends update – the year before the pandemic

 1 October 2021

The Foundation Giving Trends series presents annual research and analysis on trends in the giving, spending, income and assets of philanthropically funded foundations. It tracks the contribution of foundations to public benefit, while building transparency and an up-to-date evidence platform for practitioners, policymakers and researchers.

In 2020, we were due to publish the latest edition, covering the financial year 2018/19. Like many things in 2020, Covid contributed to a delay to publication and, with Professor Cathy Pharoah and Dr Cat Walker who carry out the research and with Pears Foundation who financially support the work, we decided to postpone to this year.

We also decided that, with postponement, we would produce a shorter update report on the 2018/19 figures and concentrate on the full report for 2021. The update report does not include the usual top 300 table but we will include this table for both 2018/19 and 2019/20 financial years in the full 2021 report we publish later this year.

So today, we are publishing the shorter update report: Foundation Giving Trends Update 2020. This shows that in the year before the global Covid-19 pandemic, the Top 300 foundations were already beginning to face major funding challenges in meeting increasing need.

Click here to read the full report

The report shows that grant making continued to grow, but at a higher rate than the growth in income and with near zero growth in assets. Based on the evidence in this report, it would be difficult to say how strong the overall position of the Top 300 foundations was going into the maelstrom of 2019/20. The full Foundation Giving Trends 2021 report due in December will give some initial indications of how foundations responded to Covid, covering some of the period when the pandemic started to hit.

We're also really pleased to be publishing the report on the European Day of Foundations and Donors. This is the eighth year of the day, which was established by Dafne (Donors and Foundations Networks in Europe) in 2013. On this day, public benefit foundations, charities, trusts, communities, donors, philanthropists, and volunteers across Europe come together to showcase the role foundations play in European societies. Today's Foundation Giving Trends report shows how important foundations are to civil society in the UK, especially with continued pressure on public sector funding and fundraising from the public.