Civil Society research indicates changes in UK philanthropy

Civil Society research indicates changes in UK philanthropy


According to new research by the Carnegie UK Trust into the future of civil society the widening gulf between rich and poor could lead to changes in UK philanthropy.

The report, The Shape of Civil Society to Come in the UK & Ireland, explores the potential threats and opportunities facing civil society up to 2025. It states that “one of the key roles of foundations is to complement the role of the state; acting where government is unwilling or unable”. However, it also says that there is growing confusion about “what areas of activity are complementing state activity and what areas are substituting for state activity”.

These findings were supported by recent comments from Stuart Etherington, Chief Executive of NCVO. Speaking at the Association of Charitable Foundations' (of which Carnegie UK Trust is a member) annual conference in September, Etherington painted a picture of civil society as increasingly dependent on government contracts, especially in the areas of social welfare, health care, and education and training.

The inquiry also acknowledges the growth in ‘new’ philanthropy and the engaging of high-net-worth individuals and corporations in effective giving.The inquiry’s findings are based on workshops held with more than 400 leaders in the public and third sectors, in which insights were gathered from people working in and around civil society in all its forms.The report identifies several key questions arising from the research. These include:

  • How does civil society respond to the emerging conflict between conventional economics and environmental and resource issues?
  • How do civil society associations prevent themselves and indeed society from fragmenting along socio-economic, ethnic and/or religious lines?
  • How does civil society respond to shifting notions of the workplace, more international supply chains, and to the increasing levels of economic migration which appear likely?

Geoff Mulgan, director of the Young Foundation and chair of the inquiry commission, stated that the aim of the report is to be proactive about all the challenges and opportunities faced by civil society and to help us all shape the future.

To read more of the inquiry and its findings visit Carnegie UK Trust’s Democracy & Civil Society website.