Smarter funding decisions and help for the arts sector to evidence its impact are needed to boost philanthropy, according to a paper by NPC.

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Jason Aspinall (CC BY-SA 2.0)

In order to attract philanthropy, arts organisations and funders are being encouraged to better communicate the benefits of the arts in terms of its outcomes in four key areas: intrinsic (or enjoyment), education, economic, and social.

A new paper from charity think tank NPC, ‘The art of philanthropy’, hopes to help funders and philanthropists make better funding choices. The think tank is optimistic that, with the sector facing a potential 40% funding cut, philanthropists can help to protect, promote and diversify the arts in the UK, but says smarter funding decisions are needed.

NPC reports that although there are positive trends in philanthropy in the UK, with half of private funding in the sector coming from individuals, these figures “mask huge discrepancies between regions, art forms and high- and low-profile charities”. It states that more than half of the total income for arts organisations across the country goes to organisations based in London and the south east of England.

The paper highlights the need for arts charities to be able to make their case for funding to a range of organisations and individuals, in as powerful a way as other competing charities, such as sports or educational charities. NPC is encouraging funders to support the arts sector to evidence its impact. It also calls for a network for philanthropists be set up to help potential donors find lesser-known arts organisations and give in a more structured way.

Angela Kail, Head of the Funder Team at NPC and one of the authors of the paper, said: “Private donors have historically been very generous towards the arts, and they can meet the challenge again. But it will take careful and sometimes difficult decisions to ensure that its impact is maximised across the UK. The biggest charities have the scale to deliver great art experiences to millions every year, while philanthropists will also want to think about ensuring that arts charities remain sustainable across the whole of the country.”