Sunday, January 02, 2005

British Philanthropy

Stephen Pollard has an interesting take on the amount of money raised for the Tsunami appeal. Here's an extract...

The British Social Attitudes Survey shows who gives money and why. Thirty per cent of us never give any money to charity. Of the rest, the typical, generous donor is a university-educated, over 35-year-old. Intriguingly, non-Christians are far more likely to give than Christians: one in three non-Christians donate money, as opposed to one in eight Christians. Fourteen per cent of those who earn between £20,000 and £56,000 a year regularly give money to charity. Strikingly, however, the proportion of those earning between £12,000 and £20,000 who donate is much greater: 72 per cent. Indeed, giving is most prevalent among those who live in council accommodation. And 80 per cent of Conservatives give money, compared to 66 per cent of Labour supporters.

It's that latter statistic which comes closest to explaining why we give. The greater generosity of Conservatives reflects the value they place on individual philanthropy above publicly-funded welfare services. In the 19th century, British philanthropic giving was world renowned: but it did not solely depend on the rich giving to the poor.


Anonymous said...

Stephen Pollard - that well-known Tory? No, but seriously, a few questions:

Firstly, do his figures refer to those people who are members of political parties? and what percentage of the adult population belongs to a political party.

Secondly, if his figures do refer to individuals who are paid up members of political parties, 2 further points:
a) Conservative members are, on the whole, older, usually retired, usually of independent means [I used to work in CCO, that's how I know]
b) this suggests they have more disposable income to give to charity - and therefore 'should' give more

Thirdly, did the survey count individuals who buy lottery tickets regularly? Regular lottery players would, I suspect, change the weighting of the results by adding a significant handful of Labour voters. In fact, if I remember rightly, Scotland (which used to have a relatively low household income compared to the South East) gives more per capita than any other region of the UK. Oops, remind me again how many Conservative MPs there are in Scotland?

Finally, historically the charities which which receive most from the British are the National Trust and RSPCA. I can't really see either of those replacing the welfare state...

Anonymous said...

To counterbalance Stephen Pollard - from the left wing of course - I quote Jonathan Freedland from today's Guardian with reference to corporate donations to the Tsunami appeal:

Vodafone announced it would be giving £1m and matching all staff donations... The company's annual profit, registered last May, was £10bn. That means the company made substantially more than a million pounds an hour. Yet that is all they gave - less than an hour's profit. It is less than they gave their new boss, Arun Sarin, for his annual bonus...

Or look at...: the Premiership. It gave the same Vodafone figure, £1m. The Premiership is made up of 20 clubs, so that would have set back each team a grand total of £50,000.

[Manchester United] alone is worth £700m; its annual profit is £47m. Maybe the Man U players did the maths and felt guilty but, if they did, it was not nearly guilty enough. Between them they raised another £50,000. When you think that Rio Ferdinand earns £80,000 a week, that is scarcely an impressive total from an entire squad.

Philip Green, the BHS boss, is a famously generous man, giving serious sums to charity. But even his £100,000 in cash and £1m worth of clothes looks like less of a sacrifice when one notes that his Arcadia group paid him a dividend of £460m last year - and that he spent £5m on a toga party to mark his 50th birthday two years ago.

The problem is not just rich companies, but rich individuals. According to the Charities Aid Foundation, the wealthiest 10% of UK income earners give just 0.7% of their household expenditure to charity, while the poorest 10% allocate 3% of theirs."

And so on... To read the whole article, go to:,15671,1383481,00.html

So much for philanthropy from the wealthiest.

carlislecookiemonster said...

Right goddammit I'm going to have a rant here. The one thing that really hacks me off about the charity donations isn't the amount each person gives (I'm sure the saying 'all donations GREATFULLY received' still applies, it's the way this government is double accounting the system.

The government has pledged 36.5million pounds and private donations will proabably amount to £100 million soon. Now, inpractice the giftaid scheme is only being used arround 50% of the time (source Telegraph)and as it has tax implications it can save up to 28% of the donations ending up in the governments' coffers. If you do the maths this could mean £14,000,000 being trapped in the tax system, or put it another way £14,000,000 of funding not going to the charties. Funny how they can bend over backwards for Bono (come and speak at our conference and we'll see what we can do about VAT when you want to promote your charity records) but aren't doing a great lot about this. After all it's not as if the money was earmarked for other spending elsewhere as the event was totally unexpected.

Rant over.

Iain Dale said...

That's a very good point. I might look into that a little further.