Sir Brian Souter, the co-founder of the Stagecoach Group empire, has donated £109 million to charity in what could be the largest charitable donation by a Scot since those of business magnate and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie.
The money - in the form of shares generating income - could go to a range of charities including the Tearfund, Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland, the Princes’s Trust, Mary’s Meals, Save the Children and thousands of small Christian and community groups which have been helped by the Souter Charitable Trust.
Sir Brian made the surprise announcement yesterday that he was donating 28 per cent of the shares from Souter Investments.
"Charity sector undergoing a 'perfect storm'"
Last night George Young of the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF), an international charity which aims to promote a culture of giving worldwide, said Sir Brian’s donation had come at a time when the charity sector was undergoing a “perfect storm.”
Sir Brian also revealed its portfolio had outperformed the stock market by 55 per cent in the past 12 years and said it is seeking new investment opportunities.
"The Souter Charitable Trust has donated more than £98m to 13,000 worthwhile causes over the last 13 years"
The firm’s portfolio, excluding Stagecoach, increased in value by 9 per cent per annum from December 2006 to March 2019.
He said: “Given the excellent performance of Souter Investments, I have today gifted 28 per cent of its shares to The Souter Charitable Trust; I estimate that the value of this shareholding is £109m.
“The Souter Charitable Trust has donated more than £98m to 13,000 worthwhile causes over the last 13 years and this gift will allow it to continue this important work.
“Despite the uncertain political and economic times facing us all, our portfolio is in good shape and Souter Investments has the liquidity to continue investing through the cycle.
“I remain positive in the ability for canny investors to find value in the coming years and hopefully Souter Investments can continue to be one of those investors.”
Mr Young said: “Something we’ve seen in Scotland and the rest of the UK is that the number of people donating has gone down.
“But the amount being donated is staying the same.
“So, we have fewer people donating more.
“We are carrying out investigative work to try to find out why some people appear to have lost faith in some charities.”
Mr Young added: “Charities are experiencing a perfect storm right now.
"Scandals, austerity and loss of faith in institutions"
“It is not just being caused by one factor alone. But would appear to be a combination of the scandals experienced in some parts of the charity sector, austerity and a loss of faith in institutions.
Last week the World Giving Index 2019, commissioned by (CAF) ranked the UK as the seventh most generous country over the past decade.
The index, which looks at donating, volunteering and helping a stranger, surveyed 1.3 million people in 128 countries.
Researchers found in the four weeks before being surveyed, 60 per cent of people in the s had helped a stranger, 71 per cent had given money to charity and 30 per cent had volunteered their time to help a good cause.