Fall in proportion of richest people donating more than 1 per cent of their wealth

But the academic Beth Breeze says she does not believe it shows there is a problem in UK philanthropy

There has been a drop in the number of the UK's richest people who gave more than 1 per cent of their wealth to charity in the past year, according to The Sunday Times Giving List 2019.

The list, published yesterday, revealed the total amount given to charity by the 1,000 richest people in the country has risen to a record £3.75bn, up from £3.2bn last year.

It found, however, that just 72 out of the 1,000 gave away more than 1 per cent of their wealth to charity, down from 86 in last year’s list.

But Beth Breeze, director of the Centre for Philanthropy at the University of Kent, told Third Sector she did not believe the information revealed by the list showed there was a problem in UK philanthropy.

"I don’t think people think about giving in that way or do that kind of calculation – they give to what they are asked to give to," she said.

"And we all know that as inequality increases the richer are getting richer at a pace, and as people’s wealth increases the amount they give needs to get higher to stay at the same percentage."

But Breeze said that charities needed to focus on compelling fundraising asks if they wanted to persuade those who could give more to do so.

"When philanthropy last hit the headlines it was the Notre Dame fire," she said. "And what that showed us was that when the cause is urgent enough and emotionally stimulating enough a huge amount of money can be found at very short notice – half a billion by daybreak in that case.

"So it’s not that people aren’t willing to give and in large sums, but they need to have that ask made of them.

"There are so many causes that need money and the key thing in all this is the dormant philanthropic capital or the potential people have to give. There’s a lot of money that could be given and isn’t yet."

The top donor on the Sunday Times Giving List 2019 was the investor and art collector Jonathan Ruffer, who gave away £317.5m or 210 per cent of the wealth he was subsequently left with.

Kenneth Townsley, who founded Gold Medal Travel, which he sold to Thomas Cook, came second, having donated £63.7m or 53 per cent of his £120m fortune.

Sir Chris Hohn and Lord Sainsbury, who have both previously come top of the list, came third and fourth respectively, with Hohn giving £417.7m, 35 per cent of his £1.2bn fortune, and Sainsbury donating 31 per cent or £166.8m out of £534m.

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