Anthroposophy UK – a Preliminary Report and Assessment

This is a brief article summarising the preliminary results of an in-depth and ongoing study of the Anthroposophy movement within the UK. The full and complete study document is available on the CHASE website on the downloads page.

In line with the basic aims of CHASE, the study was instigated so as to provide basic information about the movement on behalf of the entire UK community. It is emphatically NOT a critique of Anthroposophy or of the movement. It is a basic nuts and bolts fact finding exercise – number of Anthroposophical organisations in the UK, what they do, their finances and the interconnections between Anthroposophical organisations.

An overview of the study and its findings to date is given below. The study aims to be transparent and open. Feedback relating to the study is very welcome and can be sent to the author via mike@chaseuk.info

Overview of the Study & Summary Results

Study Overview

With only background knowledge and information to hand, a Register of Anthroposophical organisations was started. Organisations were tested using operational definitions designed to establish an organisation’s relationship to Steiner and Anthroposophic belief and principle. The Register was populated only by organisations holding to, advancing or operating in accordance with Steiner or Anthroposophic belief and principles.

Information about each organisation in the Register was then gleaned from the latest three sets of annual accounts of each organisation and from online resources. The information gathered included financial details, company directors, reported links between organisations e.g. a donation given or received. The information obtained was transferred to the Register and the Register then analysed. The results in brief are presented below.

Summary of Study Results

201 organisations were recorded in the Register. 156 of the 201 organisations were currently active at the time of writing and about a half dozen of these are subsidiaries of another organisation within the Register. The organisations are thinly distributed over all regional areas of the UK with noticeable clusters of organisations to be found in London, Bristol and Gloucestershire, Forest Row in East Sussex, Aberdeen and Edinburgh. 106 of the organisations are incorporated charities, 77 are charities, and 15 are stand-alone businesses i.e. incorporated companies bodies registered at Companies House. One organisation was an associative charity organisation without any formal charitable or business status. One organisation was an associative group of business companies without any known formal business status.

The combined annual income of the organisations was estimated to be GBP 138,475,000 and their assets estimated to be GBP 249,983,000. Average annual income was estimated to be GBP 955,000 and average assets GBP 1,725,000 per organisation.

When categorised on the basis of their focus of activity, education and social care dominate the purpose and practical application of Anthroposophy in the UK. Some 45% of active organisations fall into the education category, 30% the social care category

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However, the social care category is much wealthier than education.

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Most of the organisations recorded are charities. There are approximately 215,000 charities within the UK. Compared to the registered charity population as a whole, Anthroposophical charities are wealthier as a group than are non-Anthroposophic charities.

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The wealthiest category of Anthroposophical organisation is social care and the wealthiest social care organisation recorded in the Register ranks amongst the top 250 of the wealthiest charities in the UK.

The income streams of social care category organisations rely heavily on state funding via agencies such as Social Services and Health Authorities. As a group, it was estimated that social care organisations derive more than 50% of their annual incomings from statutory agencies, some GBP 50,000,000 per annum. This estimate will be firmed up as and when the study continues.

State or statutory funding of education category organisations appears to be negligible although there may be some indirect state funding reaching Steiner kindergartens via parental uptake of the state childcare voucher scheme. The education category organisations rely on fees charged for the provision of the private education that they offer.

Significant levels of state funding also reach the medicine and health category organisations where these organisations operate or accommodate an NHS registered medical practice. NHS rent payments to three such organisations recorded in the Register totals approximately GBP 140,000 per year. One of these organisations derived further statutory funding for its care of the chronically ill and for mentally ill people and in accounting year 2006 over GBP 250,000 of its income (about a third of its total income for the year) was derived from UK statutory funders. One medicine/health organisation appears to be operating an informal medical insurance scheme regularly contributed to by various social care category organisations recorded within the Register.

The business category organisations are mostly members of the multinational Triodos Group and one of these, Triodos Bank, has been important in providing mortgages to organisations within the Register. Of 295 mortgage details recorded, 67% involved lenders from outside of the organisations in the study Register and 33% involved Anthroposophic organisations as lenders with nearly 70% of these coming from Triodos Bank or its precursors, the ‘Mercury’ organisations. Another multinational business organisation, Weleda, has borrowed from a social care (charitable) category organisation, and donated small sums to education and religious category organisations.

When the links (financial transactions, formal relationships etc) between the organisations were explored, links between organisations within the same and between different categories of application were demonstrated. Links within and between formal Anthroposophical groups (e.g. Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship, Christian Community) were also demonstrated. Some 86 organisations could be assigned to associative groups and around 1000 links are recorded between them. Considered as a network, the links within and between associative groups demonstrate that the movement as a whole is cohesive and integrated. As the illustration below shows, the Anthroposophy movement can be seen to consist of ‘movements within a movement’ that are each distinct as movements yet integrated by the many links within and between them.

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Members of Anthroposophical associative groups and their links within and between associative groups

In the illustration above members of the same group are represented by the same colour-filled nodes and the parent organisation of each associative group is labelled with a truncated name. The seven labelled parents and their group names are:
SWSF – Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship
AnthroSocGB – the Anthroposophical Society in Great Britain
TRIODOS – Triodos Group of Companies
BDAA – Biodynamic Agricultural Association
BAAP – British Association of Anthroposophic Pharmacists
Acamp – Association of Camphill Communities
CComTees – the Christian Community – Movement for Religious Renewal.

Lines between nodes designate a link between organisations but not the number of links. Over 1000 links between the 86 organisations illustrated have been recorded

Links from organisations within the Register to organisations outside of it have been recorded. Of over 2000 links between all of the organisations in the Register less than 500 are links between an organisation within the Register to an outside organisation. When provisionally classified the majority of outside organisations linked to were found to be Anthroposophic. These outside organisations were come across after the Register was first populated and in the course of recording links. As and when the study continues it is hoped that these and other ‘missing’ organisations can be added to the study Register and so make a more complete and balanced appraisal of the Anthroposophy movement within the UK possible.

This article only summarises the study findings to date. The complete study document contains a table of organisations recorded, other useful illustrations, several Appendices and discussion of methodology, quality of data and so on. Footnotes are provided and many of these can be followed up by reference to resources available online.

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