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Private giving and philanthropy – their place in the Big Society

Cathy Pharoah


While government has clearly signalled the importance it attaches to the growth of charitable giving and philanthropy in building the Big Society, there has been little appraisal of what needs to be achieved through this approach, and how far growth is feasible. This paper identifies current thinking and policy expectations of giving and philanthropy, and the messages which emerge from a review of evidence on current distribution, the donors, donations and emerging demand. It looks at how far philanthropy is likely to take the place of statutory support, and meet new needs. It is concluded that charitable giving is far more driven by donor preference and less socially instrumental than many acknowledge. An increase in the scale of charitable giving and philanthropy may only lead to an expansion in its role if it is accompanied by a new awareness of public need.


DOI 10.3351/ppp.0005.0002.0003