law family commission


Law Family Commission reports on the state of UK philanthropy

The launch of a new philanthropy report by Pro Bono Economics has once again thrown the spotlight on the generosity gap between those wealthy people who give generously and those who could do more.

Entitled Mind the Giving Gap: Unleashing the Potential of UK Philanthropy the report highlights three “gaps” in philanthropy that could collectively generate £3.2 billion more for civil society.

Read the report

The report takes a broad definition of philanthropy and highlights:

The Participation Gap: the narrowing of the donor base, with fewer people giving. The proportion of those giving to charity fell from 32% in 2008 to 26% in 2018. Those who are giving, are giving more.

The Generosity Gap: the growing gap between generous high-earners and the rest of the top 1%, with 63% of the total value of donations coming from just 0.4% of this group.

The Gift Aid Gap: the missed opportunity for charities to claim the match from government and for HNWs to claim the higher rate rebate. The report concludes the system isn’t working hard enough and government is unlikely to consider additional incentives until this problem is fixed.

The report is part of the Law Family Commission on Civil Society, the research programme being delivered by Pro Bono Economics to unleash the potential of civil society by providing ideas for change to policy-makers, companies, philanthropists and wider society.

The report proposes recommendations in five areas to tackle these gaps systemically across. These five areas span:


  • Increasing access to non-cash fundraising tools, data and insight.
  • Rebooting the Innovation in Giving Fund for testing and scaling new ideas to encourage people to give to charity.
  • Building fundraising capacity and capability, particularly among small charities.


  • Public campaigning around celebrating philanthropy and a giving pledge targeted at the highest paid in society: “1% by the 1%”
  • Establishing coordination in government through a UK Government Philanthropy Commissioner.
  • Championing local philanthropy through nominated representatives.

Decision support

  • Encouraging the development of Cause Networks or Giving Circles.
  • Developing better information and data on the social sector, including the development of common indicators and metrics.
  • Improving data about philanthropic giving.

Wealth advice

  • Integrating more systematic philanthropy education for wealth advisors during training and certification.
  • Establishing a partnership between the charity sector and wealth manager umbrella bodies.


  • Widening the campaign for Gift Aid simplification
  • Broadening campaigns and education aimed at donors and charities to increase Gift Aid usage.
  • Developing proposals for match-funding schemes, prioritising place-based match-funding in Levelling–Up priority areas stewarded by local institutions such as Community Foundations.

We warmly welcome these systemic proposals, many of which have been championed by the wider philanthropy sector, including Beacon Collaborative.

The launch of the report was supported with by the publication of other resources to provide context and stimulate educated debate on philanthropy and its role in UK civil society. These include:

  • Better Giving – a long-form essay by sector expert Rhodri Davies. The essay reviews the main debates on how to give well in the 21st century.
  • Guest essay series – a collection of provoking thought-pieces on philanthropy. The substantial series includes articles from entrepreneur and donor Fran Perrin, Mayor Andy Burnham, MP Danny Kruger, Shelter CEO Polly Neate and more.