Giving Compass' Take:

Rhodri Davies, writing for Charities Aid Foundation, discusses the history of UK philanthropy and how it helped shape UK cities and towns today. 

How can reflecting back on the history of philanthropy and charity be helpful in defining expectations for future growth of the charitable sector?

Read about predictions for philanthropy in the UK in 2019.

Philanthropy played an important role in the growth and development of many UK towns and cities, but what, if anything, can we learn from history that is actually useful in terms of looking to the future? This is not the place to attempt a potted history of the whole of UK philanthropy.

However, it is worth looking at some of the broader trends that can be discerned - as well as some individual examples of philanthropists and the impact they had on particular places - in order to get a sense of the ways in which they helped to shape the towns and cities of today. This will help us to understand how we can reconnect with the history of philanthropy in our cities without simply harking back to the past for its own sake.

A key milestone in the development of modern philanthropy was the introduction in 1601 of the Statute of Charitable Uses, which enumerated for the first time a list of purposes which could acceptably be deemed as ‘charitable’ in law. This strengthened the notion of philanthropy as something that was concerned with secular problem solving, and laid the foundations for the definition of charity that we still use in the UK to this day (and, indeed, in many other places whose common law has followed our own).

Read the full article about the history of UK philanthropy by Rhodri Davies at Charities Aid Foundation.