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Philanthropy Review: Too focused on techniques and fundraising mechanisms?

The Philanthropy Review was announced to much fanfare this week and I've just finished reading the final report and digesting it's content.

I was critical of the Funding Commission report in December for setting some bold ambitions, but with unrealistic plans for achieving them, and fortunately the Review doesn't seem to have fallen into the same trap.

The report is split into three sections:

  • How to make it easier to give
  • How to encourage giving
  • How to help giving become a social norm

It offers useful proposals for increasing giving in the UK and presents some interesting stats to back up it's case.  For example, those earning over £200,000 per annum give £2 to charity for every £1,000 that they earn compared with an equivalent £90 for every £1,000 amongst their peer group in the United States, which I thought was particularly shameful.

However, I don't think that this stat will change any time soon with just tweaking existing mechanisms for fundraising - it needs revolution.  That's why one of the criticisms I'd have of the report is that they've focused a bit too heavily on the tools for giving (viewing giving as a very rational thing) and not enough on the emotional and community building side of things.

For example, the part I was most looking forward to reading about was the 'How to help giving become a social norm' section, but apart from some good ideas about encouraging philanthropy in school it amounted to not much more than holding some meetings about collating data and a vague promise to hold a 'Giving Campaign' in 2012.

I would've liked to hear a lot more about this idea and the concept of promoting giving generally rather than the detailed plans about tweaking payroll giving and introducing more charity bank accounts, which is all well and good, but is unlikely to transform giving in the UK.

It's only by understanding the reasons behind philanthropy and then trying to replicate and promote those reasons that we will truly make progress on increasing the levels of giving in the UK.

Overall, the report is worth a look and I hope they make progress with their recommendations.  They seem to have the ear of government and I hope they can use this influence in a positive way.

I look forward to hearing further updates, especially on the giving campaign...

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