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Debate: Should philanthropy play a bigger role in helping to fund charities?

Third Sector, 29 March 2011

Government has 'unreasonable expectations'

Government has 'unreasonable expectations'

Critics say the government has "unreasonable expectations" that philanthropists can make up for funding cuts

MARTIN BROOKES - chief executive of New Philanthropy Capital

Martin Brookes, chief executive, New Philanthropy Capital

Philanthropy should obviously play a bigger role in funding charities. This would help diversify funding sources and protect charities from future cuts. If philanthropy were to grow, it would also allow charities to expand and help more people - that should be the goal.

Wanting to grow charitable giving is not an ideological position; it is common sense and morally desirable. There is no sensible basis on which to object to more private funding of charities, as long as this does not force charities to behave in ways that run counter to their missions.

SALVATORE LASPADA - chief executive of the Institute for Philanthropy

Salvatore LaSpada, chief executive, Institute for PhilanthropyPhilanthropy already plays a huge role in the UK, thanks to the generosity of the British public; last year, it gave £10.6bn to charity, a rise of £400m on the previous year.

At the same time, it is important to note that philanthropy can never replace the role of government in funding essential services; the annual budget for the NHS alone is £100bn. That said, philanthropy can play a bigger strategic role, in that donors can fund, or provide seed capital for, innovative ideas that government can disseminate for the benefit of the wider society.

BELINDA PRATTEN - head of policy at the National Council for Voluntary Organisations

Belinda Pratten, head of policy, NCVOThere is huge potential to increase philanthropy. The rich are getting richer, but their giving is not keeping up; poorer households still give proportionately more. This will not change overnight.

It will take time to develop a culture of philanthropy in the UK. And it will need a long-term strategy that is based on enhancing the value of voluntary action, not replacing government cuts; on understanding why people give, not just what we can get; and that celebrates and values philanthropy and the generosity of those who give.

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