What can the UK learn from other countries about philanthropy?

This report is published alongside the 2023 World Giving Index, which shows a mixed picture for the UK in terms of generosity at a population level. The UK is a generous country. While it comes third for donating money, it has slipped down the index over the last ten years.
There is a risk that the UK could soon be left behind by other comparable countries.

Australia and Ireland both performed similarly on the index over the last decade and are now well progressed in the creation of new philanthropy strategies. As well as setting a framework for more giving in future, this sends a clear message internationally.

It is a timely moment for the UK to look outward and consider what it might learn from others on philanthropy. That is a major task, which this report aims to simplify. It analyses data and policy on giving from five comparator countries: Australia, Ireland, Canada, New Zealand and the United States of America.

The report reviews each country, looking at the tax treatment of donations (for the donor rather than charities or foundations), to make recommendations about what the UK could adopt.

Recommendations:

  • Learning from Australia and Ireland’s national strategies, the UK should develop a strategy for charitable giving, focusing on philanthropic, corporate, and mass market giving. It should consider ways to collect clear data on giving in the UK and understand the barriers to unlocking greater generosity. Considering the experiences of other countries, as this report does, should be a key part of such an approach.

  • Learning from the wide variety of assets that can be donated to charity in the USA, the UK should allow donors to donate alternative types of assets. For example, life insurance policies, and to make a charitable contribution directly from a pension fund.

  • Drawing on the example of the USA, the UK should also consider philanthropic vehicles for giving such as a charitable remainder trust. This would improve incentives for donors to give to charity, whilst boosting charities who are struggling in tough economic times.
  • Learning from New Zealand, which has a growing payroll giving market, the UK should focus on ways to incentivise payroll giving, exploring strategies adopted in Australia, which faces similar challenges to the UK.

  • Like the US and Canada, the UK should explore a solution for equivalency determination, making it easier for donors to give to good causes abroad.

  • Drawing on Ireland's example, the UK Government could recognise the value of philanthropic capital as part of a holistic approach to achieving its objectives. This would both recognise the unique risk appetite and innovation that philanthropic capital can support, and also the value of partnering with corporate and charitable partners on key programmes to maximise impact.

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