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Publicly funded arts organisations attracted more fundraising in 2018/19, but the growth isn’t keeping pace with inflation and falling grant-in-aid.

The National Portrait Gallery generated the highest proportion of fundraising compared to its Grant-in-Aid last year

Roman Boed

Cultural institutions funded by DCMS attracted £435.9m of fundraising in the last financial year, their highest level of donated income since 2013/14.

Income data released by the department shows the total income of the funded organisations rose by a quarter (25.7%) in real terms over the decade to 2018/19. This includes generated fundraising, trading income and the value of donated objects, which DCMS notes “varies considerably over time”.

The figures include institutions funded directly by DCMS grant in aid and those that receive it as part of Arts Council England’s (ACE) national portfolio.


Income from donated objects grew by 28.9% last year, boosted by a few generous gifts to high-profile institutions: the British Library received two assets valued at £1.2m, while a single object given to the British Library accounted for more than £5m of the £32.2m value of donated objects in 2018/19. DCMS said it did not know what these high-valued items were.

But even when donated objects are excluded, the data shows organisations’ fundraised income has grown by 10% in a single year.

Grant-in-aid and inflation

The only organisations to attract more fundraising than grant-in-aid last year were Sir John Soane’s Museum and the National Portrait Gallery, which respectively made 3.7% and 5.2% more from donors than the Government.

When donated objects are excluded, all funded organisations attracted an average of 41 pence of fundraising for every pound invested by the Government in 2018/19.

Fundraising income as a proportion of grant-in-aid has nearly doubled over the past decade, from 21 pence per pound in 2008/09.

But inflation over the same period (31%) means the value of Grant-in-Aid has fallen 40% below 2008/09 levels in real terms.

The real terms increase in fundraising income is about 47% since 2008/09.

National Portfolio Organisations

ACE’s National Portfolio Organisations (NPOs) attract a high amount of fundraising income compared to their Government grants – 81 pence for every pound received.

NPOs received £271.7m from donors in the last financial year. However, DCMS says the NPOs’ total income of £2.1bn in the last financial year is 2.4% less than in 2017/18.