Sainsbury family tops Sunday Times Giving List 2015

More than 300 philanthropists on this year's list, published by the newspaper, gave a combined £2.58bn to charity

Lord Sainsbury of Turville
Lord Sainsbury of Turville

The Sainsbury family were again the most generous philanthropists last year, giving away more than £200m to charity, according to the Sunday Times Giving List 2015.

The list, part of the Sunday Times Rich List, which is due to be published on Sunday, shows that the more than 300 philanthropists included in this year’s list gave a combined £2.58bn to charity – £180m more than the £2.4bn that came from about 280 philanthropists in 2014.

The list is compiled from accounts lodged with the Charity Commission by donors, plus public announcements, fundraising events and a newspaper survey of donors.

The initial details from the list, published yesterday, reveal that 105 people gave more than 1 per cent of their total worth in the past year. Four of these gave more than 25 per cent of their wealth.

The Sainsbury family, led by David – Lord Sainsbury of Turville, former chair of the eponymous supermarket chain – were the biggest donors for the second year running, both in cash terms and as a proportion of their overall wealth.

The family donated £203.2m, which represents 40 per cent of their wealth, to 18 charitable trusts. The largest donation was £25.1m to the Sainsbury Wellcome Centre for Neural Circuits and Behaviour.

Among the celebrities that gave away more than £1m in the past year were the singer and songwriter Sir Elton John, the band Coldplay and the footballer Steven Gerrard.

John donated just under £24.1m — or 8.9 per cent of his overall wealth — to charity last year, with most of it going to his Aids foundations in the UK and the US. Coldplay donated £3.75m through its J Van Mars Foundation, including a £1.45m donation to Kids Company. And Gerrard gave away £13m, including a £500,000 donation to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital through his Steven Gerrard Foundation.

A separate study by the Charities Aid Foundation, which worked with The Sunday Times to produce the list, found that more than half of people believe the wealthiest in society should donate 25 per cent of their money to charity over the course of their lives.

The research, informed by more than 2,000 online interviews conducted over three days last month, also found that 43 per cent of people want the UK to have its own version of the US Giving Pledge – a project led by the billionaires Bill Gates and Warren Buffett that asks wealthy people to give away at least 50 per cent of their wealth to good causes. Five UK philanthropists, including Richard Branson, have already committed to the pledge. 

"We see so many incredible examples of generosity by the world’s wealthiest, and movements such as the Giving Pledge are leading the way in opening up the conversation and bringing giving and charitable organisations into the public eye," said John Low, chief executive of CAF.

"Driving a project like this forward in the UK could help more philanthropists feel comfortable speaking out about their work with charities, and help to further grow giving and support among the wealthy and the public."

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