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The Philanthropy Paradox: Public attitudes and future prospects for planned giving

Posted on 9 November 2020

Research launched today by Prism the Gift Fund (Prism) has revealed a new paradox in regard to public attitudes and future prospects for planned giving in the UK.

Prism commissioned a survey by NatCen of 1,215 interviews with a random sample of the population across the UK to investigate attitudes to philanthropic giving. The report was written by Dr Beth Breeze, Director of the Centre of Philanthropy at the University of Kent. Managing Partner and Chair of Prism James Libson provided an introduction to the report, which can be read here.

The novel data highlights 5 key findings:

  • Charitable giving is a very common but largely private matter in the UK
  • Most people believe that philanthropic donations make a positive contribution to society
  • There is less widespread agreement that philanthropists are good for society (only 53% of the lower income group concur). 18.2% agree that negative perceptions might deter donors, and most people do not trust donors to do what is right with their donations
  • Awareness, and support for, tax incentives to encourage charitable giving are highest amongst older and higher income people
  • Awareness of Donor Advised Funds is very low, but they appeal to many different types of donor

With charities facing a £10bn funding shortfall in the coming 6 months as a result of COVID-19, the report argues that philanthropists can bridge a vital gap – they can take more risks than large organisations, making decisions faster and deploying funds more flexibly. Public opinion and media coverage are vital to promoting a positive narrative around philanthropy to encourage those who have to give, and those who give to give more.

James commented “COVID-19 has magnified divisions and thrown a legitimate spotlight on the response and responsibilities of those able to give. Suspicion about philanthropists and their motivation undermines the broad acceptance of the benefit of philanthropy. It is a matter for the philanthropy sector to address and we at Prism are committed to doing so.”

To read the full report click here.

To read the key findings summary, click here.

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