LONDON (HedgeWorld.com)–A new survey of the top 1,000 charities in the United Kingdom shows that the percentage of them investing in funds of funds more than tripled from 2002 to 2003, and that the number of charities with investments in single-manager funds doubled during the same period.

The survey, by JPMorgan Fleming Asset Management, also showed that 15% of charities with no hedge fund investments currently said they would consider investing in funds of funds in the future.

“We are beginning to see a growing trend in the use of and interest in alternative investment strategies, particularly hedge funds of funds, which is the result of a better understanding of alternatives and strong recent performance,” Jeremy Wells, charities fund manager at JPMorgan Fleming, said in a statement. “Whether this trend will continue, now that stock markets have stabilized, is something we will watch with interest.”

According to the survey, the number of charities investing in funds of funds grew from 3% in 2002 to 10% in 2003. The percentage of charities that said they invested in single-manager hedge funds grew from 4% in 2002 to 9% in 2003. Another 11% of charities said they would consider single-manager investments in the future.

Two-thirds of the charities surveyed said their assets increased in value between Sept. 30, 2002 and Sept. 30, 2003. The average increase in asset value was 7%, according to the survey.

Charities also reported feeling better about equities. Of those surveyed, 37% said they reduced their allocation to equities in 2003, but that was fewer than the 50% that said they did so in 2002. Overall, the percentage of charities that said they increased their equity exposure in 2003 was 13%, up from 4% in 2002, according to the survey.

CClair@HedgeWorld.com