Chair of Charity Commission gives Kent Philanthropy Lecture

Olivia Miller
Orlando Fraser by Charity Commission

On Thursday 9 November, Orlando Fraser KC, Chair of the Charity Commission for England and Wales, delivered the 2023 UK Philanthropy Archive Shirley Lecture at the University.

During the lecture, which was part of the 15th anniversary of the University’s Centre for Philanthropy, Orlando declared “I have committed the Charity Commission to the promotion of philanthropy”, as private donors are able to provide unrestricted funding to UK charities working on areas such as innovative solutions to social and environmental problems, enhancing communities and combatting rising inequalities.

Orlando noted the overall generosity of the UK public whilst highlighting a concern that philanthropy and giving from the top 1% earners in the UK is on a downward trend. To put this into perspective. He put out a plea to donors and the important role they have in providing large-scale, unrestricted gifts to charities, and noted that such gifts ought to be “communicated and celebrated” because criticism and shame will not “move the dial” on philanthropy.

Orlando discussed the financial pressures on charities, amid wider concerns that the cost-of-living crisis is leading to increased demands on the sector. While recognising the limits to philanthropy, he argued that encouraging giving by those with the broadest shoulders can help to address the pressures faced by charities. He is keen for the Commission to explore how it can help to create an environment where donors give more, and where they are confident that their giving will make a difference.

His full speech can be read on the website.

The lecture took place in the University’s Templeman Library Lecture Theatre, chaired by Professor Beth Breeze OBE (Director of the Centre for Philanthropy) with further discussion from Beth Astridge (UK Philanthropy Archive at the University) and Dr Karl Wilding, lecturer in Philanthropic Studies.

Professor Karen Cox, Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Kent, opened the event with a welcome speech.

The wider celebration of the Centre’s anniversary included a full afternoon of talks and discussions, covering current trends and issues, and how learning from our past can help us to strengthen future philanthropy.

Professor Beth Breeze in conversation with German philanthropy expert Michael Seberich during the event