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The return of philanthropy

In the past 20 years, the number of very rich people in Britain has risen sharply and tax incentives for giving are now similar to America's. But Britain does not yet have a US-style culture of giving, and mixing public and private money is not always easy

By Beth Breeze   January 2005

There are more than 160,000 registered charities in Britain. Last year they spent over £20bn on everything from conserving pond life to looking after the homeless. The top 500 fundraising charities raised £4.6bn in voluntary income in 2002-03 and, after a trough in donations during the late 1990s, individual giving is returning to levels last seen in 1995.

Yet private giving in Britain is still disappointingly low – £7.3bn in 2002 (less than 1 per cent of GDP). Charities receive more of their income from government than they do from individual donors. A third of the public gives nothing at…

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