Peter Phillips speaking at the MA Conference in Edinburgh last month

DCMS launches guide to philanthropy in the regions

Geraldine Kendall, 10.12.2012
Report aims to help cultural organisations outside London raise more
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has published a new report setting out practical ways for cultural organisations outside the English capital to improve their fundraising capabilities.

The report, entitled Philanthropy Beyond London, is written by Peter Phillips, chair of Birmingham Opera, and is one of three independent studies into philanthropy commissioned by the government.

The disparity between the fundraising capacity of institutions in London and those in other regions was highlighted in a recent survey by Arts & Business, which showed that approximately 80% of all philanthropy generated in England goes to London-based organisations.

The figures for 2010/11 show that private investment in culture outside London amounted to just over £125m, compared to £488m in the capital.

Similarly, while philanthropy makes up 9% of arts organisations’ income nationally, when broken down regionally this drops to 5.1% in some areas, compared to 12.2% in London.

Phillips spoke last month at the Museums Association Conference in Edinburgh ahead of the report’s publication, where he acknowledged there were “no quick fixes” but said philanthropy was “infinite if you know how to get it”.

The report makes a number of recommendations for cultural organisations, Arts Council England and the government.

These include ensuring that leadership of fundraising is a key priority for directors; introducing Friends schemes or building on existing schemes to encourage individuals into higher levels of giving; smaller organisations partnering up to create joint membership schemes in order to save on administration costs; and government bodies doing more to raise public awareness of the charitable status of cultural organisations.

Phillips said: “With the current pressures on central and local government spending, I hope that [the report] will provide some useful and practical pointers for organisations, particularly smaller ones, on developing the knowledge and skills to access philanthropy.”

The culture secretary for England, Maria Miller, said government funding would continue to play a "huge role" in supporting the arts but added: “In these tough economic times it is more important than ever for arts bodies to develop the fundraising skills that mean they are not reliant on public funding alone.”

The report has been welcomed by the museum sector, but some have expressed concern about the realistic ability of organisations to attract significant philanthropic donations outside the high concentration of wealth in the capital.