UK fundraising 'in the stone age' compared with the US, major philanthropist claims

Sir Peter Lampl says that if people in the UK gave at the same rate as those in the US, it would generate an extra £45bn for charities

Sir Peter Lampl
Sir Peter Lampl

UK fundraising and how it is perceived is "in the stone age" in comparison with the US, the founder of the Sutton Trust has said.

Sir Peter Lampl, who has given £50m to the education and social mobility charity, told The Times newspaper that the wealthiest people in the UK were "terrible" at giving money to charity and, if they donated at the same rate as their American counterparts, it would generate an extra £45bn for charity.

But in comments to Third Sector he said that charities in the UK needed to get better at asking for money.

"I’ve given universities a lot of money, but sometimes you don’t even get a thank-you letter," he said.

"People want recognition and they cannot be thanked enough. This attitude where we’re all embarrassed to ask, and to be asked, holds us back.

"In America fundraising is a career and a good fundraiser in the US has status. We’re in the stone age in comparison."

He said that although American fundraisers could be aggressive, fundraising was done "in a positive way" there.

When he lived in the US, he said, he donated $1,000 (£765) to his children’s school and was then asked to give more – as a result, he said, he gave more than $100,000.

Lampl, who became a millionaire through his private equity firm, told The Times: "If you never want to see a Brit again, just ask them for money."

He added: "There is a huge gap between us and America. If we gave at the American level, it would mean generating an extra £45bn."

His comments came after a survey of 1,000 people, commissioned by the charity and carried out by the polling company Public First in early December, found that 39 per cent of Britons did not know the meaning of the word "philanthropy" but 58 per cent believed rich people should give more money to charity.

More than half (52 per cent) of respondents said their opinion of a wealthy person would be improved if they discovered that the person gave to charity.

In a statement reporting the survey’s findings, Public First warned that, given the results, "those who want philanthropy to be encouraged and celebrated should use this term sparingly and instead talk about 'giving to charity' or 'charitable giving'".

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