How young givers have responded to the Covid-19 pandemic


The Giving List shows how the pandemic has united young and old in a common cause. This year, an increasing number of younger people feature among the most generous on the list. Alastair McCall, Editor of the Giving List, looks at the impact they are having.

Marcus Rashford

Marcus Rashford scores for charity

He pricked the conscience of a nation and forced the government to address the issue of food poverty among the poorest and most vulnerable children as the Covid pandemic closed schools and turned life on its head.

Now the Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford becomes the youngest person to top The Sunday Times Giving List, our annual measure of the generosity of those financially best equipped to make a difference.

The list ranks philanthropists by setting the charitable sums given or raised against their net worth in the Rich List. While Rashford has donated cash, it is his role in inspiring others to give to FareShare (the food charity for which he is an ambassador) that carries him to the top of this year’s Giving List.

Rashford makes his first appearance in the Young Rich List this year with a fortune of £16 million. His high-profile campaign to get children eligible for free school meals fed regularly when schools were shut during lockdown led to £20 million being donated to FareShare. This gives Rashford a Giving Index of 125 (the £20 million representing 125 per cent of his net worth) and another accolade to add to the MBE he was awarded in the Queen’s birthday honours last year.

Drawing on his own experiences as a child, Rashford made tackling food poverty in Britain one of the key issues of the pandemic, raising awareness to new heights. He also played a prominent role in fronting a record-breaking Times and Sunday Times Christmas charity appeal. It raised more than £3.1 million — £1.8 million of it for FareShare — thanks to Rashford’s support and the match-funding of readers’ FareShare donations by Sir Alex Ferguson, the former Manchester United manager, and the billionaire philanthropist Sir Michael Moritz, who ranks 51st in our 20th annual Giving List.

The response of high net worth donors

Rashford is one among many in the Rich List, however. There has never been a year like it — a year when the demands placed upon the charitable sector and the need to support it have never been greater, but also a year when high net worth donors responded in an unprecedented manner.

For the first time in the 20-year history of the Giving List, charitable donations from the super-rich topped £4 billion; the £4.305 billion gifted over the past 12 months representing a 36.1 per cent rise on the £3.164 billion given the previous year. The £1.141 billion increase in giving among the 1,000 families and individuals in the 2020 Rich List has been balanced by a corresponding £750 million fall in the assets of their charitable foundations, down to £22.76 billion.

Donations have been more widely based than ever, with 182 Rich Listers among the £1 million-plus donors in the past year, beating the previous record of 177 (set in 2016) and 20 more than the number we recorded in 2020. The number giving at least £10 million is up to 71 from 42 last year, while we recorded nine donations of more than £100 million.

Covid-19 has fuelled the giving spree and we have tracked £520 million of donations to this end alone, covering PPE supplies, the alleviation of food poverty, community support and the vital area of helping to plug the cumulative £10 billion funding gap in the finances of charities up and down the country.

A new generation of philanthropists

Rich Listers have traditionally come to philanthropy in their later years — 14 of them have signed the Giving Pledge to donate at least half of their wealth before or at the end of their lives. This year, an increasing number of younger people feature among the most generous on the Giving List.

Niall Horan and Louis Tomlinson, both former members of the boy band One Direction who are now pursuing solo careers, performed online concerts in lockdown to raise money for those worst affected by the pandemic, including members of their industry. Horan raised £1.9 million last November for music crew furloughed by the absence of all live music, while Tomlinson raised £2 million the following month for pandemic causes, including FareShare.

Other Young Rich List philanthropists have included the Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane, who led a move by the England football team to give more than £1 million to NHS Charities Together. The Liverpool captain, Jordan Henderson, was made a Charities Together champion in January in recognition of his role in leading the #PlayersTogether Covid-19 appeal, which raised more than £4 million for the NHS. We acknowledge his role in a similar way to Rashford’s, carrying him to sixth place on this year’s Giving List.

For some members of the Young Rich List, helping is very personal. Ben Francis, the 28-year-old founder of the online sportswear retailer Gymshark, raised more than £180,000 to support women’s and children’s hospital services during the pandemic. His mother was one of the nurses risking her life on the front line at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham.

We live in a time of the influencer generation, of social media. That body of our society who will become the high net worth individuals of the future are hugely influenced by those who occupy their virtual worlds today, and who are setting an example by how they’re choosing to commit their time and wealth.

Neil Heslop
Chief Executive, Charities Aid Foundation

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