Giving Trends 2017: Foundation grant-making hits record high

For the second year running, foundation grant-making has reached a record high - hitting £2.9bn.

The 12% rise comes on the back of a 5.5% growth in investment income and a 1.9% growth in voluntary income, demonstrating foundations’ ongoing commitment to quickly translating upticks in income into new giving.

This year’s growth also means that since 2013, more than £560m has been added to the grant-making of the top 300 UK foundations.

Total assets also reached a record high, growing by 9.8% to almost £60bn.

The figures have emerged from the latest in a series of annual research reports, Foundation Giving Trends; led by Professor Cathy Pharoah of the Centre for Giving and Philanthropy at the Cass Business School and Dr Catherine Walker of The Researchery, published by the Association of Charitable Foundations (ACF), and substantially supported by the Pears Foundation.

The report, which ranks the Top 300 Foundations by the value of their grant-making and provides aggregated data on the size, shape and nature of foundations’ contribution to UK civil society, also details the specific growth trajectories of family and corporate foundations. It shows family giving growing by around 20% this year, and now accounting for almost two thirds of the total grant-making, and corporate giving rising by 9% to £269m.

For the first time, the report also explores the many innovative partnerships undertaken by foundations, including with the public and private sector, designed to drive social benefit in a wide variety of areas.

On the impact of the report, Keiran Goddard, ACF Head of External Affairs said:

“We know that the more clear and complete the information at hand, the more tools foundations can bring to bear on their decision-making.  In addition, research such as this can also provide a realistic context for policy-makers and legislators, helping them understand the currents and drivers of UK philanthropy and root their own interventions more firmly in evidence. This year’s findings once again demonstrate the flexibility, robustness and effectiveness of the foundation model.“

Professor Cathy Pharoah said:

“As ever, it is vital to capture this information about the size and shape of foundation grant-making. However, what matters most, of course, is the outcome of that foundation funding, and it is for that reason that I am particularly pleased that this year’s report is completed with a deep- dive into examples of foundations of different sizes delivering social change through enterprising grants, and powerful partnerships.”

Download the report here

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