Rising to the challenge: a study of philanthropic support for unpopular causes

Research report


Body, A. and Breeze, B. 2015. Rising to the challenge: a study of philanthropic support for unpopular causes.
AuthorsBody, A. and Breeze, B.
TypeResearch report
Abstract

Many recent efforts to grow and strengthen the culture of philanthropy in the UK have focused on two dimensions:
❥ Increasing the total amount of money donated to good causes ❥ Increasing the effectiveness of philanthropic spending

Whilst these are both admirable aims, they leave untouched a third, more controversial issue: the destination and distribution of donations. This is not an accidental omission. A defining characteristic of charitable giving is that it occurs on a voluntary basis, so most people – especially politicians and policy makers – are wary of promoting one cause above another or implying that any beneficiary group is more or less ‘worthy’ than any other. However, the absence of much comment on, or significant research into, the destination of donations does not alter the situation that some groups succeed in attracting significant philanthropic funds whilst others struggle to secure any – or many – donations. This paper makes a contribution to understanding the distribution of philanthropic support, alongside whether and how it can be altered in favour of causes that are perceived to be less popular. The introduction sets the scene by describing the current distribution of voluntary income to different charitable beneficiaries in the UK. This is followed by a review of insights from research into charitable giving and how it helps us to better understand the distributional pattern of donations. Chapters 4 and 5 identify barriers that affect the positioning of causes and their ability to attract voluntary donations, with ten case studies illustrating how they have succeeded in surmounting those barriers and countered prevailing trends. The final section summarises what can be done to increase the flow of donated funds to charities that feel themselves to be ‘unpopular causes’, and the report ends with a useful tool to help charities understand which barriers may be preventing them from maximising their philanthropic income.

Year2015
Official URLhttps://www.kent.ac.uk/sspssr/philanthropy/documents/Rising%20to%20the%20Challenge.pdf
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
PrintJul 2015
Publication process dates
Deposited27 Oct 2016
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