Phi Newsletter: January 2015

Welcome to the January 2015 issue of the Factary Phi Newsletter.

Major Giving News

Wolfson Foundation donates £2m to scientific development

The University of Exeter is set to receive a £2m donation towards the construction of a new, Living Systems Institute, which is intended to develop a pioneering new approach to treating the world’s most serious diseases.

To help achieve this, the institute will call on 200 cell and molecular biologists, mathematicians, physicists, biomedical scientists and engineers who are to investigate some of the fundamental cellular processes which underlie human and plant disease.

Paul Ramsbottom, who is Chief Executive of The Wolfson Foundation said: ‘The Wolfson Foundation supports excellence and so we are delighted to make this exceptional grant to the University of Exeter in support of establishing a new Living Systems Institute. The University of Exeter is fast becoming a scientific power-house, with a major impact on the South-West. In making this award, the Foundation recognises the quality of research, the imaginative approach to understanding diseases and the effective working with local partners, particularly the NHS Trust.’

Gorton Monastry to receive £1.7m

The Monastery of St Francis & Gorton Trust is set to receive a £1.7m donation from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The money will be used to support the restoration and conservation of the Pugin designed, Victorian gothic monastery and to this end, a total of £3m in funding has been made available and will allow for the construction of a permanent and sustainable carbon neutral front wing.

Elaine Griffiths, the Chief Executive of The Monastery of St Francis & Gorton Trust explained that: ‘This is a fantastic Christmas present for Gorton and for Manchester as a whole. The collapse of the friary during the original fundraising period meant that almost £1m had to be diverted into saving that part of the Grade II listed buildings, and so vital restoration and conservation work inside the former church has had to be deferred until now. Also, once constructed, the Welcome Wing will allow us to open our doors to the community for the first time in more than 25 years which is fantastic.’

Retail chief gifts Royal Marsden £1.5m

In memory of his late wife, businessman Don McCarthy has donated £1.5m to the Royal Marsden cancer hospital for the purchase of an advanced surgical robot. Diane McCarthy, who was treated for bowel cancer at the hospital, tragically died in 2007.

Speaking on his donation, the former House of Fraiser Chairman remarked that: ‘The Royal Marsden provided an excellent standard of care when Diane was ill and it is really important to us to give something back. It’s great to know our donation has gone towards really exciting technology that will hugely benefit patients.’

The machine allows for microscopic incisions to be made with greater accuracy, and it also eliminates the need for open surgery, reduces pain and blood loss and thus helps speed the recovery process.

As a result of his donation, the hospital will be the first in the country to get such an advanced piece of surgical equipment.

Next section: Report

Report: Matter of Trust: What the Public Thinks of Charities and How it Affects Trust

This month, we have included our summary of a recent report on public trust in charities. The report is entitled ‘Matter of Trust: What the Public Thinks of Charities and How it Affects Trust’ and the research was conducted by James Noble and Sue Wixley on behalf of NPC.

Overall, how much do people really trust charities?

Answering on a scale of 0 to 10, the public were asked how much trust they have in UK charities. Perhaps as to be expected, the results of the survey were fairly evenly spread.

According to the results, over one in three respondents gave charities a low score of five or less out of a possible ten, including roughly 10% of these who gave charities the particularly low mark of 2 or less. However at the other end of the scale, just over one in four gave charities a high mark of eight or more, but only a very small minority (2%) gave charities the best possible mark of ten out of ten.

Just over one in three (35%) of respondents expressed at least some degree of mistrust in UK charities, however the majority of the population indicated that their feelings lie somewhere in the middle in terms of their level of trust in UK charities. The most common score in this area is seven out of ten, with the average score coming in at 5.9 overall.

According to the report, these findings are slightly more negative than the latest findings of the Charity Commission, however these results should rather be seen as a ‘snapshot’ of how charities are viewed rather than a definitive answer.

What type of organisation do people think charities are?

Respondents to the survey were asked to choose which words or phrases most come to mind when they think of charities in the UK. The results show that overall, people have a number of different mental images of the sector.

More than three quarters (77%) see charities as either national or international organisations, compared to just 15% who mostly associated them with local bodies. Furthermore, a substantial majority of the population also believe that charities are mostly large organisations (67%) and are ‘not involved’ in political issues. Eight out of ten respondents felt that charities rely on funding from the public (80%), rather than mainly from the Government or business (12%).

How do perceptions of charities affect trust?

The public perception of charities is noticeably more divided in some areas, and in particular, when considering whether charities are run by professionals (41%) vs volunteers (51%), and also whether in terms of their objectives, they should focus on service delivery (51%) vs awareness raising (41%).

The mean value of donations was £4.6m and the median was £2m. The lack of any nine-figure donations brought down the 2013 average.

Based on the responses, it is also interesting to note that while the vast majority of people (67%) think of larger organisations when they think of charities, the reality is that only 16% are in fact large, with an income of more than £100,000. In contract, the public perception that charities are mainly run by volunteers (55%) is almost in line with the reality that some 53% of charities have no employees.

How do perceptions of charities affect trust?

According to the research, the people who are the most distrustful of charities are those who believe they tend to get most of their money from either the Government/business (55%) and those who think charities are more political (47%). Criticism of charities was also slightly higher amongst those who think they are run by professionals (41%) and those that are focused on raising awareness (40%) rather than service delivery.

People who mostly associate charities with being apolitical, or small organisations that use public money for delivering services also had a comparatively higher level of trust.

What type of charities are people most likely to donate to?

When asked which types of charities they prefer to donate to, there were some stronger preferences amongst respondents.

Two thirds (66%) said they would prefer to donate to charities run by volunteers over professionals, 70% said they favoured service delivery over awareness raising, three in four (76%) said they would favour charities that stay away from politics, while 73% stated that they preferred charities that were mostly run on public money. Despite this however, there was still a sizeable minority who preferred to give to those involved in politics (8%) and also awareness raising (14%).

A gap was also found when comparing the types of charities that exist and their appeal to the public. The most significant contrast being that the majority (59%) would prefer to donate to smaller charities, even though two thirds of people currently associate charities with large organisations rather than small ones. Similarly, while only 15% mostly think of charities as local, 40% of these people would prefer to donate to local charities over larger ones.

How much do people know charities?

Another important factor in determining public trust and confidence in charities is to also take into consideration how well they feel they know the sector.

Respondents were asked to rate their own level of knowledge on a simple four point scale, and by a large, the overwhelming majority of people chose to put themselves in the middle – either knowing a ‘fair amount’ or ‘not very much’. Only one in twenty (5%) felt they knew a ‘great deal’ about charities, while 3% said they knew ‘nothing at all’ (4% said they don’t know).

What contact do people have with charities?

In the last year or two, most people (57%) said they had made some occasional donations to charity, and 25% had made regular donations. In contrast, a much smaller proportion said they manage (3%), work (5%) or volunteer (19%) for a charity. Meanwhile one in six (17%) said they have had no contact or engagement with a charity in the last two years.

How does knowledge affect trust?

According to the research, there is a relationship between peoples’ perceived knowledge of charities and their levels of trust and confidence.

Three in ten (31%) of respondents who feel they know a great deal, or fair amount about charities also reported a high level of trust (8-10 out of ten)- compared to just 17% of those who feel they know not very much or less. Meanwhile, mistrust of charities is highest (at 41%) amongst those who are less informed. However, it is worth noting there is also a significant group who feel informed but also have lower levels of trust (30% of those who feel informed). The proportion who gave charities a medium trust score of 6 to 7 is similar across the two broad knowledge groups.

So, while it is true that a higher level of knowledge surrounding charities generally goes together with higher levels of trust, this is not necessarily the case across the board. This suggests that there are more genuine reasons for dissatisfaction than a simple lack of awareness, and focusing on improving people’s knowledge of charities alone might not be enough to increase their trust.

How can the population be segmented in terms of their views on charities?

There is no one fixed or particular view of the sector from public. Instead, there a range of different mental images that are informed by various different groups with different views, each with their own set of characteristics. The report combines the data on trust in charities with people’s own self-reported knowledge of the sector, segmenting the population into four broad categories.

Enthusiasts vs detractors

  • Informed enthusiasts: The largest group (35%). They are at least mildly positive about charities, scoring them six out of ten or higher, and they know a lot about them.
  • Uninformed enthusiasts: One in four of the population (26%). They are positive but with a lower level of familiarity.
  • Uninformed detractors: The 20% who feel they do not know much about charities and are negative about them.
  • Informed detractors: The 15% who feel negative despite knowing a great deal or fair amount about the sector.

A better understanding of these positions might help charities to develop a more targeted approach. For example, reaching uninformed detractors might be particularly challenging given that this group rarely has direct contact with charities. In contrast, the proportion of informed detractors seems to be unaffected by the relationship people have with charities (it remains at around 15% among those who work / volunteer for charities as well as those who have no contact with charities at all). Further analysis of this data will focus on understanding their concerns in more detail.

Conclusion: what next?

While the charity sector is undoubtedly under a high level of scrutiny from the public, it is important to remember that it is not alone in this regard. There are a number of different transparency bodies at work and when it comes to openness, it is argued, charities should not get a free pass as they benefit from taxpayers time, money and also from public funding and tax concessions.

In a previous report from NPC, it was recommended that charities consider how best to respond both individually and collectively to public concerns. Among other things, it argued that the sector needed to come up with a joint strategy to talk to the public about its changing role and to respond more proactively to criticism.

From the research, there does seem to be an increasing level of recognition with regard to the importance of charities ‘having answers’ and developing the capacity to quickly respond to criticism (the recent formation of the Understanding Charities Group for example).

A greater sense of accountability and transparency can only be beneficial in the long term, as this has the potential to defuse negative perceptions of charities, and to also bolster the case put forward by charity proponents.

Clickhere for a full version of the report.

Next section: Phi Database Update

Phi in Numbers January 2014

For this month’s edition of our database update, we have decided to survey donations that have been made to religious causes in recent years, and to see how these records compare according to their value from the years 2009 to 2011. It should be noted that where an exact donation amount was not available, we have instead used the ‘minimum’ or gift band lower. Those with no donation amount or those only showing a gift band upper have been excluded.

Below we have included a bar graph showing the spread of donations according to their value, split out into various bandings. For reference, there are 1346 records in this activity type included with an amount (or gift band lower) for 2009, 1055 records for 2010 and 926 for 2011.


As is demonstrated by the graph, by far the largest proportion of donations to this activity type across almost all three years have been made in the £1-£2,499 banding, however, it is also interesting to note that this trend appears to have become steadily less significant as time has gone on.

Elsewhere in 2011, the number of larger donations from the £20,000-£49,999 bracket and upwards seem to be on the increase compared with the previous year, while those in the slightly smaller bracket of £10,000-£19,999 also appear to be decreasing.

Year on year, the most consistent banding for donations to this activity type appears to be the £5,000-£9,999 bracket, where the proportion of donations has stayed almost exactly same for all three years. From this, it appears that the number of larger donations to religious activities is on the increase, while the frequent smaller donations from 2009 and 2008 appear to have decreased for the time being.

It should be noted that these results are based on records as they appear in Phi, and are not necessarily representative of the wider giving sector as a whole.

Next section: Profile

Profile: The Lancaster Foundation

Founded in the year 1997, this is the personal foundation of Dr John Lancaster MBE, a Clitheroe based businessman and philanthropist who founded Ultraframe, a glass windows and doors manufacturer.

Born in 1942, John he left school at the age of 15 and joined Dynamo Electrical Services as an apprentice electrical engineer, before then going on to work for car company Wellgate Motors. He stayed with them for several years and then started his first venture as an entrepreneur, founding a workshop and electrical appliance business in his hometown.

He was successful and several similar ventures followed, however some years later by 1983, John had become disillusioned with the commercial world, selling his half share in the company and instead devoted his time to his new business, UPVC windows.

The company sold glass windows and doors, manufactured in town and then sold on at discount price. Initially however the company struggled to turn a profit, as his seemingly suspiciously low priced windows were thought to be of low quality by the public. And then as he struggled to get the business going, things looked to be going from bad to worse when two weeks after moving to a new location, disaster struck, and a fire swept through the premises, causing a great deal of damage.

Thankfully however, while much of the premises and even the frames in which the products were housed were damaged in the fire, the windows themselves miraculously survived, creating some utterly unexpected but welcome good press for the company following on from the disaster.

As Ultraframe grew, John decided the company should diversify and he also moved into the design and construction of conservatories. In doing this, he was crucially able to obtain his first patent for a special roofing systems designed by him specifically for UPVC conservatories. This influence was not insignificant, as upon his retirement, the company reportedly held up to 400 patents in this area.

Ultraframe expanded further, and in 1997 the company was successfully floated on the Stock Exchange, the same year that John also founded and injected £10m into the Lancaster Foundation. He remained in his position as a major shareholder with the company, but he is now less involved in its day to day running and holds a non-executive role.

For the financial year ending 31st of March 2013, the trust reported an income of £3,474,370 and an expenditure of £3,076,473. Factary Phi holds 53 records of donations made to various organisations since 2009 worth a minimum of £3,493,729.

The Trustees

Dr John Lancaster

Dr John Lancaster is the founder and former Managing Director of Ultraframe Ltd. He is executive Vice Chairman of Edward Dickens Ltd and he is also currently a Trustee of Open Arms International and The Grand at Clitheroe. He was awarded a doctorate by the University of Manchester in 2003.

Rosemary Lancaster

His wife, Rosemary Lancaster is a former Director of Ultraframe Ltd and she is also a Trustee of The Grand at Clitheroe.

Steve Lancaster

Their son, Steven Lancaster is an owner and executive Director of the Grand at Clitheroe and he is a former distribution director at Ultraframe.

Next section: News

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