Giving by family and personal foundations up by almost a quarter last year

Giving by family and personal foundations grew by nearly a quarter last year, according to new figures from the Association of Charitable Foundations.

The membership body’s Foundation Giving Trends 2021, published today, shows foundation grant-making remained high in 2019/20, despite growing challenges for the sector.

It found that the ACF’s 400 members collectively held assets of about £50bn and gave out more than £2.5bn in grants each year.

The research on giving, income and assets among the 300 largest foundations revealed that grant-making continued to grow last year, rising by 7.8 per cent in 2019/20 compared with the previous 12 months, excluding the Wellcome Trust.

The report says that the Wellcome Trust, as by far the biggest foundation, heavily skews the data due to its massive assets and spending.

Overall giving by family foundations including the Wellcome Trust grew by four per cent to almost £2.2bn over the same period.

Giving by family and personal foundations grew by nearly a quarter (23 per cent) to £1.5bn, but corporate giving fell by 12 per cent.

Voluntary income increased by 11 per cent, according to the ACF, but investment income did not record the same level of growth and fell by more than six per cent.

Total giving in 2017/18 was £2.9bn, which was a nine per cent decrease the previous year.

The report’s authors also looked at how foundation spending and assets had compared with the UK economy as a whole.

This analysis, based on the 100 biggest family foundations, found that both foundation assets and spending had grown significantly more than the UK economy since the early 2000s.

Additional analysis by the report’s authors on how 50 foundations responded to the pandemic found that they responded swiftly and decisively, committing significant amounts to emergency funding and changing practices almost overnight.

Carol Mack, chief executive of the ACF, said: “This year’s research shows how foundations have stepped up when the Covid-19 pandemic hit.

“Significantly, foundations are continuing to choose to maintain or increase their grant-making, despite the fact that this research covers a period with the economic uncertainty of Brexit in 2019 and then right into the pandemic in 2020.”

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