Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by the Association of Charitable Foundations

  The Association of Charitable Foundations (ACF) is the representative body of grant-making trusts and foundations in the UK. It has over 300 members, almost all of whom are charities, either registered with the Charity Commission or recognised in Scotland. Members range in size from small and local grant-makers to the world's largest, including the National Lottery Charities Board, and give over £800 million for charitable purposes each year.

  This evidence has been approved by the Association's Executive Committee. The views expressed necessarily cannot fully reflect the wide diversity of members' situations and opinion, but the Committee is confident that they represent a reasonable consensus.

  We draw attention to the amount of money that the National Lottery has generated for good causes over the five years of its existence:

Heritage Lottery Fund
Millennium Commission
National Lottery Charities Board
New Opportunities Fund


Figures taken from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport's web site.

  This compares with the approximate total given by charitable foundations over the same period of £7.9 billion (£5.9 billion excluding the Wellcome Trust), and with estimated total government grants to the voluntary sector of £33 billion.

  Of the total giving by charitable foundations, approximately £790 million is for arts activities, £290 million is for preservation of historic buildings and other activity corresponding to the scope of the Heritage Lottery Fund, and £6.8 billion is for general social welfare activity corresponding mainly to the ambit of the National Lottery Charities Board with some overlap with the New Opportunities Fund and the Millennium Commission. There is virtually no overlap between charitable foundations and the Lottery Sports Fund, since sport is not charitable in law. It can be seen that the Lottery contribution to the voluntary sector exceed that of charitable foundations in each of these fields except for general social welfare.

  We draw attention to the Lottery's merits as a source of funds for activities and projects that it is inappropriate for government or commerce to undertake or to fund. A civil society needs voluntary organisations and volunteers to undertake activities that are organised through participation, which are independent of government, and which may involve advice on, research into, and rational criticism of, government services. The Lottery's contribution to the voluntary sector's health and vibrancy—and thus to the enrichment of civil society—is to be greatly welcomed.

  Not all Lottery funding goes to good causes that are independent of government. There is significant overlap between the Arts Lottery Fund and mainstream government funding for the Arts, both of which are administered by the Arts Council. The New Opportunities Fund operates under significant government directions as to its funding priorities. While we do not necessarily take issue with this, we draw attention to the success of the distributor that, because of its overlap with the ambit of independent foundations, we know best—the National Lottery Charities Board (NLCB).

  We think that the NLCB's record over five years is a remarkable one. It has distributed nearly £1.7 billion to voluntary organisations in a way that has been very widely accepted as fair, has (within the limits of the funds available) helped the voluntary sector develop independent services which tackle disadvantage, and has been notably transparent. Several grants have involved elements of risk in funding causes that have not been obvious, nor necessarily in tune with populist sentiment, but which are the proper hallmarks of an independent grant-maker supporting independent causes. Society is the richer for it.

  The NLCB's long-term contribution to the voluntary sector has yet to reach full maturity. Its welcome practice of giving three-year grants inevitably brings difficulties for funded organisations at the end of this period. Clearly only a minority can be re-funded, bringing problems for many of the others who are doing worthwhile work, and also for other funders (statutory and voluntary) who are then under pressure to provide continuing support. The development of polices for the longer-term may change this situation.

  Some of the voluntary sector's infrastructure is weak, and the NLCB may well have a permanent role in supporting it which has yet to be determined. We look forward to continuing debate on these matters, and urge the Committee to see them as part of the continuing positive role of the NLCB.

October 2000

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