On Saturday the 11th May, we had the great pleasure of taking part in the Nexus Europe Youth Summit on Innovative Philanthropy and Social Entrepreneurship at The Clubhouse in Central London. In the words of the organisers, the Summit “brought together philanthropists, investors, social entrepreneurs and allies under the age of 40 from across Europe, to inspire new leadership, greater generosity and more strategic investing in social and environmental projects”.
The Institute organised a breakout session in the afternoon under the headline, “New Models in Philanthropy – If it ain’t broke why fix it?”; Mary Glanville, Managing Director of the Institute for Philanthropy in the UK, facilitated an animated discussion between two eminent philanthropists with different approaches to giving, Fran Perrin and Marcelle Speller. Fran is the Founder and Director of the Indigo Trust, a grant-making trust that funds technology-driven projects that bring about social change, largely in African countries; and Marcelle is the Founder and CEO of the online fundraising platform for small and local charities, Localgiving.com.
The session kicked off with a discussion around the role of philanthropists today. Fran put forward the view that philanthropists ought to use their unique position to fund innovative, potentially risky, projects that the Government cannot. In some cases, that might mean providing capital in order to test a new model for delivery (governments often find it difficult to invest in “unproven” organisations or models). Marcelle agreed that philanthropists need to recognise their comparative advantage in the social change ecosystem by providing “more than money”: philanthropic investments must add up to “more than the sum of their parts”, and effect change well beyond the value of the initial investment.
Bringing “more than money” to philanthropy was a theme that ran through the discussions. Marcelle co-founded Holiday-Rentals.com in 1996, and when she sold the business in 2005 she sought to apply her business experience from Holiday Rentals to her philanthropy. Marcelle has not only built a successful platform from which oft-overlooked social groups can raise money and awareness of their work, but she’s also leveraged substantial funds from other institutions, including Government. Earlier this year, Localgiving.com ran a matched fund which raised an impressive total of £1.2 million from an initial £500,000 investment from the Office for Civil Society.
Fran has similarly applied her professional skills to her philanthropy, using her extensive knowledge of online and digital technologies to assess grant applications and offer advice to Indigo Trust grantees. However, whilst Fran and Marcelle have applied their substantial existing experience to philanthropy, they both recognise the need to network and learn from others. For Fran in particular, this is also about publicly sharing detailed information about the grants the Indigo Trust makes. This strong belief in funder transparency has led Indigo to sign up to the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI), a consistent way of publishing information about international aid.
Sharing insight and experience lies at the core of the Institute’s flagship donor education programme, The Philanthropy Workshop (TPW). TPW provides a confidential forum in which philanthropists may seek advice of their peers, get feedback, and share learnings from achievements (and failures!). This week, members of Cohort 19 of TPW are convening in New York for the third module of learning of the programme. Participants will gain practical knowledge on essential tools to measure results, learn about advocacy as a tool for social change, and receive constructive feedback on their individual strategies for giving. Upon graduation from the Workshop, they will join a supportive group of TPW alumni with whom they will continue to network and develop their knowledge of philanthropy.
For information about joining the next cohort of TPW, please see here or contact The Philanthropy Workshop team at firstname.lastname@example.org or on +44 (0) 207 040 0262 (in the UK) or +1 212 513 0020 (in the US).