Page last updated at 23:06 GMT, Thursday, 6 August 2009 00:06 UK

Giving big in the recession?

By Marc Settle
BBC News, The World At One

Charity collection fundraising money box
How has philanthropy been affected by the recession?

For millions of people, the recession is a time of belt-tightening and cutbacks.

But what about those who have millions to give?

How are some of Britain's most prominent philanthropists responding to the recession?

Recent research from Barclays Wealth indicated that one in four wealthy philanthropists had actually increased their giving in the last 18 months.

Half of those replying said that because governments had more debt, giving would become more incumbent on rich individuals.

Radio 4's The World At One has been hearing from several of the country's wealthiest benefactors about how the recession has affected them, and about how the charity sector needs to change.


"There are fewer demands, but they are more urgent," says Dame Vivien Duffield, looking back on the changes of the past six months.

She chairs The Clore Duffield Foundation, which specialises in donating to the arts in the philanthropic work begun by her father, the millionaire businessman Sir Charles Clore.

It is estimated that she and the foundations she controls have given more than £175m.

But says the difficult economic conditions have led to different kinds of requests.

Dame Vivien Duffield
Dame Vivien Duffield says demands are more urgent and for more money

"Those 'fewer demands' are often for more money and there's an awful lot of what I'd call 'filling up the gap' demands, behind both other givers and the government," she says.

"There are also almost no capital appeals coming in - people are frightened to start a new building project in this day and age."

Dame Vivien is heavily involved in a drive to raise more than £1bn for Oxford University, but even a high-profile project like that is taking a back-seat.

"The only thing we can do with Oxford is to get everything in place and ready to go when the economy takes back. Of course, there still are people giving money, but you have to tailor-make your ambitions to the moment."


Sir Tom Farmer grew up as one of seven children in Edinburgh. A teenage apprenticeship in engineering eventually led him to start the Kwik Fit garage chain.

It was sold to the motor giant Ford in 1999, netting him an estimated £75m. Since then, his charitable giving has been run though the Farmer Foundation.

Sir Tom Farmer
Sir Tom Farmer is being more careful about which charities to support

He says it is now being more careful about who it gives money to.

"The number of approaches has increased dramatically," he says, "so we've had to become a bit more mature in our giving. We are not just doing it on a whim now, we have certain guidelines."

Sir Tom has also perceived an impact because of cutbacks in state provision. "One of the biggest increases [in demands] has been from organisations funded by local government or national government.

"They are seeing their funding being cut dramatically, and that is a big area of concern."


"I have had to cut back my donations by 20 to 30%," says John Studzinski. "The ethos has not changed, the conviction has not changed - but the cash available has changed."

Mr Studzinski made his fortune with the investment bank Morgan Stanley and is now a senior figure at the private equity firm Blackstone.

His charity giving is channelled through his Genesis foundation. The multi-millionaire is, like Dame Vivien Duffield, a well-known patron of the arts.

Banker John Studzinski
John Studzinski says charities need to consolidate...

But he has fallen victim to belt-tightening, and has seen others hit similarly.

"Corporate donations, I think, have fallen. If you ask all the big arts and other organisations, be they education or healthcare related, they've fallen substantially.

"Having said that," he adds, "the uber-rich have continued to give at a very high level, I am not so sure anything has really changed for them at all."

The businessman also feels the recession might help the charity sector, by reducing the number of competing organisations.

"I have done a lot of work in the homeless sector, and one thing I have discovered is that there are too many homeless charities in the UK. So it is a question of probably some consolidation and maybe some merger and acquisition in the charity sector - that would not be a bad thing."


Rory Brooks shares John Studzinski's views about the need for streamlining among charities.

"There are now a very large number of charities in any one particular given sector. This seems to be a whole sector ripe for consolidation," he says.

Rory Brooks
...While Rory Brooks says they need to be "more pro-active"

Rory Brooks is the founder of the private equity business MML Capital and he has also financed the setting-up of the Brooks World Poverty Institute.

Based at Manchester University, it carries out research into the causes of, and possible solutions to, poverty.

"I would imagine that a number of charities and foundations are finding their sources of income or capital are under duress so consolidation and thereby a reduction of total overheads should be the order of the day," he says.

And he gives this advice to the charities that could be affected: "The ones which are struggling should be a bit pro-active in trying to find a resolution to this issue, rather than waiting for it to happen to them."

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