New report calls on city high-fliers to give more

New report calls on city high-fliers to give more


Individual giving levels in the UK have long lagged behind those in the United States.  In the US 1.67% of GDP goes towards philanthropic projects, compared to only 0.73% in the UK, says a new report aimed at stimulating high-earning City professionals to embark on a philanthropic journey.

The report Give and Let Give: Building a culture of philanthropy in the financial services industry was this week published by centre-right think-tank Policy Exchange.

The most comprehensive report into the state and future of British philanthropy in the City this decade”, is based on in-depth interviews with leading city figures and philanthropy experts including Nicola Horlick and Sir Tom Hunter.

Whilst not a direct comparison between giving in the US and UK, the report does conclude that if financial services industry professionals alone gave just 5% of their estimated salaries and bonuses to charity – approximately £4bn - Britain would reach American-type levels of giving. This is within an industry that employs less than 10% of the UK workforce.

The report’s author, Policy Exchange Research Director Louisa Mitchell – and a former City professional herself says, “During the research, leading City figures unanimously agreed that individual charitable giving in the City does not appear to have kept pace with the astonishing growth in earnings in the financial services sector in this country. We need to break the taboo on this subject.”

There is positive news, however, with numerous examples of best practice, and the report’s case studies are designed to be motivational tools for others in financial services. It also makes a series of practical recommendations including: 

  •  A neutral group should develop as the go-to website on philanthropy for financially literate high-net-worth individuals ;
  • Companies should take the lead in inspiring employees to individual action by providing opportunities to become engaged, offering access to giving vehicles such as charitable accounts, and in promoting philanthropic role models.

A summary of the report is available on the Policy Exchange website.