Philanthropy keynote speech

Introduction I want to start by addressing the biggest challenge I face when it comes to the philanthropy agenda. Namely, to explode the…

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government
The Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP


I want to start by addressing the biggest challenge I face when it comes to the philanthropy agenda.

Namely, to explode the myth that it is simply a response to cuts in arts funding.

“There’s no money in the till so go out and raise it yourselves”.  Or, as Norman Tebbit might say: “Get on your bike and start busking.”

Nothing could be further from the truth.

I remember the first meeting I had with Peter Hewitt - Alan Davey’s predecessor at the Arts Council - when I had just become Shadow Culture Secretary.

It was summer 2007, and neither of us had the slightest premonition of the financial crisis to come.

Isn’t there an opportunity, I asked him, to turn philanthropy into a tap that could support the arts as effectively as the National Lottery?

It was a theme I returned to in my very first speech to the arts world back in the summer of 2008 - again, months before Lehmans filed for bankruptcy.

Then I set out the core principles of our approach to arts funding - principles which have not changed.


Principles underpinning our approach to philanthropy

**Firstly that philanthropy is not about replacing state funding with private support.

Instead it is about a highly ambitious aim for this country to combine the best of US-style philanthropic support with the best of European-style public support.

Nor is it about importing a US model wholesale into the UK.

Over-dependence on endowments has been as dangerous to cultural organisations there as over-dependence on state support is here.

But surely we must ask ourselves what we can learn from a country in which cultural giving per capita is £37 a year compared to just £6 in the UK?

The best model for financing the arts - one that secures not just financial independence but artistic independence too - is one in which cultural organisations can count on a plurality and diversity of funding sources.


One size does not fit all

**But our vision of philanthropy is not about saying there is a single model that works for everyone.

The cultural environment in this country is one of huge complexity.

Many great London cultural organisations depend for their talent on community arts groups in the provinces, while many regional arts organisations rely in turn on the major talent generators of the capital.

Smaller or more regional organisations may not be able to raise money in the same way or in the same quantities as major metropolitan institutions. Yet the two types of organisation are inextricably linked - in a way that is crucial to the overall health of the sector.

So today I will be announcing plans to help the whole range of cultural organisations - and to address their distinct needs in a carefully tailored way.


Philanthropy benefits the donor as much as the recipient

**But before I get to this, I want to make a further point about philanthropy. Something that is not said often enough.

Philanthropy is as beneficial to the donor as to the recipient and should be recognised as such.

I experienced this myself through the small charity I co-founded before I came into politics - one that operates on a tiny scale but has nevertheless given me more pride than anything else I have done.

Vernon Ellis talked about the same feeling when he was asked about the incredible support he has given to the English National Opera over the years.

He said that the joy and satisfaction that comes with seeing the results of an investment like that is something that keeps getting greater and greater.

Shakespeare said “The object of art is to give life a shape”, so what could be more rewarding than being instrumental to that process right at the start?

But let me tell you something else - something rather more disappointing.

As a proportion of their income, the wealthiest people in this country give far less than those who are less well-off.

In the US those who earn more than £150,000 give eight times more than those in the UK.

And three-fifths of Britain’s biggest donors - those giving more than £100 a month - have incomes of less than £26,000 per year.

In other words, the people who give the most are often the people who have the least.

The kind of people whose £5 or £10 donations helped to save the Staffordshire Hoard earlier this year. 

Or young people like Matthew Hughes - the schoolboy who raided his piggybank to help the nation acquire a Turner watercolour. 

These people are valued philanthropists, every one. But those who are better off have a particular responsibility.

Because a society in which the wealthy are more generous is one where the relationship between haves and have-nots is transformed from resentment to mutual dependence.

A stronger society and a bigger one too.

back to top


A proud tradition nationwide


**Einstein said that “it is every man’s obligation to put back in to the world at least the equivalent of what he takes out of it.”

Philanthropic sentiments are not new in this country - they have a very proud tradition particularly within the arts.

The British Museum, founded on the legacy of Sir Hans Sloane. The British Library on a royal gift.

The Royal Ballet, the National Theatre, and the English National Opera, all with their roots in the charity of Lilian Bayliss.

The 17 libraries and three museums that John Passmore Edwards gave to London.

And not just in London either.

Think of the many world-class museums, galleries and collections around the country that are inextricably linked with the names of individual supporters: from Whitworth to Hunter, Burrell to Bowes.1

Or the 600 public libraries in Britain and Ireland that Andrew Carnegie helped to create.

In fact, of the 95 different donors who made gifts over £1 million last year, 27 were based in English regions outside London - regions which received more than £42 million from individual donors.

The is a 4% increase even despite the recession, which only shows how great the potential for philanthropy is right around the country.

And within this, the potential for cultural philanthropy.

Like Dennis Arbon’s incredible support for The Hall for Cornwall in Truro, for example.

Or the contribution that Anita Bhalla has made to the Midlands Art Centre in Edgbaston.

Or the role of The Joyce Fletcher Charitable Trust and of Andrew Fletcher in supporting the Bath Festivals and the Theatre Royal.


Harnessing the potential

**The potential is there. But how can we harness it to the full?

Last year cultural organisations raised £655 million from private sector supporters. That is no mean sum, but still overall the arts receive less than 3% of all charitable giving.

According to Colin Tweedy and Arts and Business - and let me here salute the work that organisation has done in this area for many years - if we had raised an equivalent percentage to that raised in the US, an extra £106m would have gone into the arts.

We need to develop our fundraising skills and capacity right across the sector. And to do this we need to learn from those who do it best.


A £160 million funding boost

**So today I am announcing a brand new match-funding scheme designed to help different types of cultural organisation.

I am delighted Alan [Davey] and Carole [Souter] are here today, because over £80 million in public funding will come from the Lottery and DCMS.

By leveraging an equivalent amount from private donors, our investment will unlock at least £160 million for cultural organisations over the next four years - but with Gift Aid and smart targeting it could raise even more.

It’s a fund that will be deployed in a range of ways to allow cultural organisations - large and small, London or regional - to access a scheme that suits them.

Firstly it will help smaller organisations, some of which do not have even a basic fundraising capacity, to develop, and even finance, their ability to identify and cultivate donors.

At the same time it will help larger cultural organisations outside London who probably do fundraising already but have always found it more challenging. We know how hard you try - this will give an added incentive to your donors to be generous.

Finally, it will help our major established institutions too, offering them a chance to take the next big step for them, namely to set up world-class endowment funds.

Today, Neil McGregor and Alan Davey are publishing their excellent reports on endowments. And the lesson is clear.

This is not a short-term venture; not something that will make a huge difference to finances in the next few challenging years.

But if it took the Met in New York over a century to build up its multi-billion dollar endowment, should we not start our endowment century now?

We know that the British Museum, the Tate and the V&A are not only world-class in the quality of their work but also in their ambition.

So if they want to develop endowment funds I am ready to make match-funding available to help support and incentivise donations. 

As the Chinese say, the journey of 1000 miles starts with one step.

In a hundred years time I want people to look back and say that the multi-billion pound endowments owned by our national cultural organisations put their first roots in the ground back in 2010.

back to top


A ten-point plan for cultural philanthropy

**So today I am outlining a ten-point plan for cultural philanthropy.
As part of this plan, the Government has this morning announced that it will be reviewing what it can do to encourage philanthropy across the board, reporting back in the spring.

We know that there is a huge amount of frustration around the existing rules.

But above all I recognise we cannot develop a meaningful strategy around philanthropy without listening to what you have to say on these issues and doing our very best to remove barriers to giving.

Another area we will be examining is how to strengthen the way we recognise and care for our donors at every level. The act of saying ‘thank you’ is simple enough, but too often neglected.

I am very much aware that Government and Ministers have a key part to play here - which is why one of my first acts as Culture Secretary was to write to 200 donors to say ‘thank you’ and to ask for their advice.
Now I know that many people who give wish to maintain their privacy.

But where donors are willing to be recognised - and celebrated as society’s role models - I believe they have a crucial part to play in encouraging their peers and helping to foster a wider culture of giving.

As Tom Hughes-Hallett - the former financier and now Chief Executive of Marie Curie Cancer Care - has said: “we need to make people think that it is okay to tell the world they have given money, because then the peer pressure will begin to build”.

So I welcome the independent review that Tom will be leading into ways in which we can further incentivise giving.

Clearly there is a role for the honours system here. Which is why, as part of this plan, we are looking at how it could better recognise sustained giving at every level, not only amongst the most wealthy.

Nor can we neglect corporate support - responsible for a quarter of private giving.

So we have designated 2011 the Year of Corporate Philanthropy - with a series of events to boost corporate support planned throughout the year.
Of course the motivation for many businesses is around marketing and branding rather than being philanthropic in its purest sense.

But as long as it respects the independence and artistic integrity of the recipient, then of course we want to encourage it.



**These are just some elements of a major new approach that is designed to have an impact across the whole spectrum of cultural philanthropy.

A plan that will form part of a wider, cross-government strategy on giving that we will publish in the spring.

And a plan that proves that, even though the very nature of philanthropy puts the onus on the private sector, the Government is not prepared to just sit back and do nothing to make it happen.

Instead we will play an active role in making sure that our sector can get the very most from the resources that are out there.  

From encouraging legacy giving, to promoting the long-term development of endowments.
From harnessing digital technologies, to cultivating giving from overseas donors.

From getting better at saying ‘thanks’, to offering help to the smallest cultural organisations as well as the biggest, those in London as well as those further away.

But I am under no illusions. All of this will take time. And it is a particularly challenging time for the cultural sector anyway.

We want to see how much progress we can make within this parliament of course. But above all we are targeting a horizon shift: a generational change in the culture of giving that may be 10 or 20 years in the making.

Not just more giving, but more effective giving, more planned giving, and more long-term relationships between the arts and their supporters.

The sooner we start, the sooner we will get there.

And the sooner cultural organisations in this country will be able to benefit fully from a society that truly believes in what Winston Churchill articulated at another time of austerity:

“We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give”.


1 Sir Joseph Whitworth, Whitworth Gallery, Manchester; William Hunter, Huntarian Museum and Gallery, Glasgow; Sir William Burrell, Burrell Collection, Glasgow; John and Josephine Bowes, Bowes Museum, Co. Durham

Published 8 December 2010