The Future of Philanthropy, in 1 Question

You are at a board meeting of your charity. Board member Jane mentions her friend Peter, and says he might be interested in making a donation. Peter, she says, is the owner of a large software company.

Peter, to be clear, is NOT A CURRENT DONOR. He has not opted in or opted out or opted for anything at your charity.

Back at the office you put Peter’s name into Google. It’s in your legitimate interests to do so, and Peter would expect you to do this.

Turns out that Peter’s business is based in Newcastle.

You are in London, so there is time and travel cost to consider if you are to visit him. You use Companies House to find out about Peter’s shareholding and the company’s profits. These figures help you estimate Peter’s gift capacity. Again, it’s legitimate for a charity to estimate the size of a potential donation before it decides to spend money on a visit to Newcastle.

At an invitation-only event on the 21st of February, the Information Commissioner’s staff will tell charities and the Fundraising Regulator whether or not they can do this search.

The future of philanthropy in the UK hangs on the ICO’s reply to this one question.

Can a prospect researcher do the search outlined above?

If the answer to the question is “No”, then high-value philanthropy in the UK will change dramatically.

It will no longer be possible to use public-domain information to identify or understand potential donors. Charities, universities, museums, hospitals and theatres will have to stop, immediately, all proactive forms of reaching out to new high-value supporters.

How will high-value philanthropists react? They will give less. When charities stop asking, people of wealth will stop giving, or give less and less often.This is not just an assertion – it is demonstrated by research. In “Richer Lives: why rich people give”, Theresa Lloyd and Beth Breeze report that 69% of rich donors give ‘If I am asked by someone I know and respect.’ Charities, from cancer research to the lifeboats, will have to adapt to a dramatic cut in their income.

Some philanthropists will respond by setting up their own foundations. We know from Factary’s New Trust Update that they are already doing this in some numbers. They will manage their own projects via these foundations, meaning less money for mainstream charities.

If the answer to the question is “No”, then the ICO is taking on not just the charity sector, but pretty much every business in the UK. Because every day hundreds of thousands of secretaries, assistants and marketing people do this exact search to check up on potential customers. Can that really be the ICO’s intent?

If the answer is “Yes”, then the ICO is affirming prospect research. We CAN continue to research, understand, and evaluate potential donors and, with permission, actual donors.

We will know the future of philanthropy in the UK on the 21st of February.

Chris Carnie is the author of “How Philanthropy is Changing in Europe”, published by Policy Press. He writes in a personal capacity.

Taking education for granted

Education organisations are winning more than 100 times as much funding from grant-making trusts than animal welfare organisations. Average grants to education are almost three times bigger than those to animal welfare.

Why are there these differences between sectors? How are other sectors faring?

To find out more we analysed the data in Factary Phi.

Factary Phi reports on £2.5 billion in donations by 6,400 grant-making trusts, and names the source, recipient and amount for up to 40% of ALL grants made in some non-profit sectors – so it gives a useful picture of what is going on in grant-making.

Arts and Culture organisations are doing well from grant-making trusts at the low mid-range – from £10,000-£49,999. Here the sector is reporting more grants than any other. At the top of the range, education and health sectors are reporting more grants than anyone else at the £100,000-£499,999 range.

Download Factary’s Taken for Granted report here.

For more information on Factary Phi contact us.

Or watch our 4-minute podcast Introduction to Factary Phi.

Art, together

There are more than 39,000 arts supporters listed in Factary Phi, Factary’s online database of publicly-recorded support for UK nonprofits.

This month we’ve prepared some brief profiles of couples who support the arts, together. Download our report here, with our compliments.

If you would like to know more about Factary Phi or to see a free online demonstration just contact us at Factary (, 0117 916 6740)

Download the report here.

Thanks from the Arts

More than 36,500 supporters are acknowledged publicly by arts organisations in the UK, according to new research by Factary. And most of the donated income is from people (not from companies or trusts, as you might have expected.)

A summary research note is available for download here.

The research is based on data from Factary Phi, the database of donations and donors reported in the public domain. Factary Phi currently contains more than 160,000 records of donors and supporters to UK nonprofits who have been publicly thanked or reported.

Factary’s research shows that while only one in three publicly-acknowledged donors is an individual, almost three-quarters of publicly-acknowledged donated £s are from people as donors.

Our research seems to show that grant-making trusts and foundations are shy of public acknowledgement – with few arts organisations listing the donation value of their trust supporters. By contrast, companies seem more willing to allow their arts organisation partners to report donation values on arts websites.

To build Factary Phi, Factary researched donors by name from public domain sources, and Factary Phi shows the organisation they donated to with that organisation’s location and the web address of the source we used to find this data. Almost half of the records show either the amount of the donation or a gift band, and we are currently reporting on more than £13 billion in known donations to UK nonprofits, from 161,896 donors and supporters.

For further information contact David Hughes, Editor of Factary Phi.

Download the research summary.