at our Open Days
Professor Beth Breeze
Reader in Social Policy
Beth Breeze is Director of the Centre for Philanthropy, which she co-founded in 2008. Beth began her career as a fundraiser for a youth homelessness charity, and spent a decade working in a variety of fundraising, research and charity management roles, including as deputy director at the Institute for Philanthropy. Motivated by the lack of substantive research underpinning practice, Beth completed a PhD on contemporary philanthropy at Kent in 2011, and has been working here ever since.
Beth has written and edited seven books, two of which have won the AFP Skystone Research Partners book prize:
She has also written a wide range of research reports including ten editions of the annual ‘Coutts Million Pound Donors Report’.
At Kent, in 2016, she launched a Masters degree programme in Philanthropic Studies. Taught by distance learning to meet the needs of busy professionals, it attracts c.40 students per year seeking higher level career development, as well as a pathway from practice into academia, with a number of MA graduates going on to win PhD funding.
Beth has served as trustee for the Cardinal Hume Centre for young homeless people, as a commissioner on the Commission for the Donor Experience, as publications editor of Philanthropy UK, as a member of the President's advisory council at NCVO; as a member of the Advisory Group of the Charity Tax Commission; and is currently a member of the Women’s Philanthropy Institute Research Committee, Lilly School of Philanthropy, Indiana University, USA.
Beth's research interests focus on philanthropy, fundraising, charitable giving and the charity sector.
She works within the Centre for Philanthropy, which explores philanthropic activities, social patterns of giving and the redistributive impact of transfers from private wealth to the public good. She also has an interest in the impact of philanthropy on social policy and political processes, and vice versa.
Beth’s main focus is on major donors, from both the demand side (fundraising) and the supply side (donors and philanthropists). In 2023 she begins work on a major new research project on Moonshot Philanthropy to explore how private giving can contribute to tackling global challenges such as those set out in the Sustainable Development Goals. She researched and wrote ten editions of the Coutts & Co bank-funded annual Million Pound Donor report from 2008 to 2017. She is also interested in collective giving, especially giving circles, and the broader topic of the art and science of fundraising. She has worked on studies of fundraising for ‘unpopular’ causes, philanthropy across the life-course and corporate philanthropy on the shop floor.
From 2008-2013, Beth was part of the ESRC Centre on Giving and Philanthropy. From 2013-2016, she held a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship to undertake a project called 'The Formation of Fundraisers: the role of social skills in asking for money'. This study explored the art of fundraising and the personality traits of successful fundraiser and the findings appeared in her prizewinning book ‘The New Fundraisers: who organises charitable giving in contemporary society?’ published in 2017.
She also received funding from the European Commission to undertake a study of the role of philanthropic fundraising in universities across the European Union.
Beth’s doctoral thesis, completed in 2009, investigates the meaning and purpose of philanthropy in contemporary UK society. Based on secondary analysis of the public statements and giving patterns of 170 of the most significant philanthropists operating in the UK today, it argues that philanthropy is primarily a social relationship between givers and receivers, rather than merely a financial transaction, and that the philanthropic acts of the wealthy are part of a strategy - conscious or otherwise - to find meaning and purpose in their lives whilst creating and communicating a positive identity to themselves, their loved ones and the wider community.
Beth is Director of Studies for the MA Philanthropic Studies programme, and convenes the modules on 'Fundamentals of Philanthropy’ and ‘Advising Donors’. She also leads the Fundraiser Apprenticeship programme.
Beth is qualified to lead PhD supervisory teams. She has successfully supervised 6 PhD students to completion with the following titles:
She is currently supervising doctoral students working on: