ACF publishes Foundation Giving Trends 2019

ACF has published its annual research on giving, income and assets among the top 300 largest foundations. Foundation Giving Trends 2019, supported by Pears Foundation and authored by Prof Cathy Pharoah and Dr Catherine Walker, found that total giving in 2017/18 was £2.9bn, down on last year’s £3.3bn, however after adjusting for the Wellcome Trust, whose overall spending is set to increase but whose grants fell in that year, the overall trend showed a real increase of 9.9% in grant-making. 

Almost two-thirds of the top 300 foundations increased their grant-making in real-terms in 2017/18. However, the majority of those increasing their grant-making also experienced a fall in their income, assets, or both.

Commenting on the report, ACF Chief Executive Carol Mack said:

“This year’s research highlights foundations’ ability to respond to the needs of those they fund, even when their own fortunes are turbulent. In particular, our decision to focus this year’s special feature on trends beyond the numbers has given space to consider the external factors affecting foundations, from the question of board diversity to the urgent challenge of addressing the climate crisis. Foundation Giving Trends is a valuable contribution to our understanding of foundations and the funding environment, and relevant to the wider voluntary sector, government policymakers, and the academic community. Producing such an annual analysis allows us to monitor trends that inevitably will have knock-on effects for the wider foundation sector and beyond.”

Professor Cathy Pharoah said:

“This year’s findings demonstrate how individual foundations address the challenges of an increasingly complex funding environment, and demonstrate the importance of digging deeper into the headline trends to see the stories that lie beneath. Although overall giving continues to increase, it is notable that many foundations saw reductions in their income or assets which may be a driver for decision-making in future years.”

Dr Catherine Walker said:

Foundation Giving Trends contributes towards an increasingly necessary evidence base informing better decision-making and understanding of the voluntary sector and its ecosystem. The foundation landscape is often seen as unchanging, but our research shows year after year the dynamism and vibrancy contained within this stability. This year a number of notable trusts entered the tables for the first time.”

Download the report here.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss the report, please contact Emma Hutchins, Policy and Communications Manager, ACF:

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