Private assets for public good: The time is now
Today the Beacon Collaborative published 'The Giving Experience: Overcoming the barriers to giving among the wealthy in the UK' which considers how fundraising organisations engage wealthy donors as partners in social change. Cath Dovey, coordinator of the Beacon Collaborative, looks at how this research becomes even more striking when social divides are magnified by something as tumultuous as the coronavirus pandemic.
On Monday 16 March, we were gearing up to launch a slew of reports on the UK’s philanthropic sector under the headline “New Research Shows British Philanthropy has Reached a Turning Point.” The press release highlighted that indicators suggested that giving by the wealthy had increased by £1 billion between 2017-2018.
By Friday 20 March, the UK had changed. COVID-19 had taken hold and the non-profit sector was reeling. Within the space of that single week, Civil Society News was reporting that the charity sector was facing £1.4 billion in lost income every month for at least 12 weeks as a result of the COVID-19 crisis in the UK.
More than ever, charities are providing critical support to help communities and vulnerable people across society to cope with the impact of the virus. Initial research by NPC shows 14 non-profit sectors braced for increased demand, from medical research to mental health, elderly care to young people and education, housing and homelessness, financial security and poverty, refugees, arts and culture, sexual and domestic violence.
Undoubtedly, communities are coming together through this unprecedented event, volunteering their time, skills and mobility to support those around them. Yet, the financial crisis emerging in the non-profit sector is stark.
New capital is needed and the philanthropy sector must be ready to help.
How do individuals help?
If individuals want to give to support social care for elderly people most at risk, or relieve the poverty that will stem from the ensuing economic crisis, or help those who don’t have homes where they can self-isolate, or tackle the domestic abuse that will increase as families are forced into close quarters – where do they start?
How can we share experience and best practices quickly so that philanthropic capital is used in ways that are coordinated and effective?
And, how do organisations that are tackling these issues build relationships with donors that will go beyond the immediate crisis phase into the long term as the damage inflicted on our society begins to heal?
These are the issues tackled in the reports we intended to publish two weeks ago. Since then, we have pivoted to turn theory into practice, raising visibility for philanthropy and sharing knowledge among those who are active in our networks so they can encourage others to fund. What we are learning is that the findings set out in these reports hold true, even under an extreme stress test.
While the scale of this national crisis needs a coordinated effort led by government and civil society, there is a supporting role for philanthropy to mobilise vital new capital where it is needed most.
With a £4 billion funding gap looming over the next 12 weeks, the time for philanthropy to grow, is now.
Cath Dovey is co-founder of the Philanthropy Collaborative and coordinator of the Beacon Collaborative.
The Beacon Collaborative is a collective impact movement bringing together philanthropists, organisations and foundations that share a common aspiration to increase philanthropy and social investment among the wealthy in the UK. The goal is to attract £2 billion more in donations and social investment by the wealthy in the UK by 2025.