Our Blog Has Moved!

August 1, 2013

We’re pleased to announce the launch of our new website http://www.instituteforphilanthropy.org.

All past and future blog posts can be found in the News & Press section.  Please browse the site for information on strategic philanthropy and the Institute’s services.

We will be closing this WordPress site soon.

Sharing the lessons of The Philanthropy Workshop 2013

June 21, 2013

For almost two decades, The Philanthropy Workshop has worked to create a dynamic network of strategic philanthropists who today are making a difference all around the world. As the latest cohort (our 19th!) recently finished the programme in New York, we wanted to share some of their key lessons from the year, and exciting plans for what they will do next.

This year’s group, hailing from the US, Canada, the Philippines, Sweden and the UK began the programme in London in October 2012, and travelled through Argentina and Chile in March before completing the course in May.

Perhaps the most poignant observation from this year’s programme was the relevance of sustainability to all causes people seek to positively advance. Traversing the dramatic wild landscapes in Patagonia illuminated how our well-being is inextricably intertwined with the well-being of the natural world around us. In the words of one of our hosts: “The full realisation of the human being, in a context of individual, social and environmental harmony, is the central focus of sustainable development”. Many members of the cohort expressed that this deeper appreciation for the issue of sustainability will undoubtedly influence their philanthropy- and indeed many other aspects of their lives.

A theme which recurred throughout this year’s programme is that of collaboration- not just among donors or their beneficiaries, but across the whole spectrum of agents and stakeholders in any given issue. The “Theory of Aligned Contributions” helped the group think through what role they might play in achieving impact collectively with others.  As one participant reflected at the end of our final week: “fitting your contributions into the right partnership unlocks great potential.” A number of participants were particularly struck by the recommendation to remember to speak to those who they do not agree with, and to look for allies in unexpected places.

A liberating tip offered this year is to “fail forward,” as one member of the group described it; “starting with what you can and evolving as you go, aiming for progress and not perfection, and learning from your mistakes.” And we were reminded that philanthropy is a practice. As much as TPW is about giving emerging philanthropists the time and space to develop their giving strategies, there is only so much that can be set out on paper and there is much to be learned by doing.

At the end of the programme, we had the opportunity to hear from each participant about their philanthropic plans, which, among other things, will include incubating and scaling social enterprises in the Philippines; connecting social activists around the globe with vital advocacy resources and tools; developing a portfolio of organisations in Stockholm to improve prospects for some of the world’s poorest girls; changing the trajectory of vulnerable women in Canada; and preserving some of the last remaining intact ecosystems in the United States.

Written by Natalie Tucker, Programme Officer for The Philanthropy Workshop

We look forward to welcoming our 20th Cohort to TPW this October, for information about joining us please see here or contact The Philanthropy Workshop team at tpw@instituteforphilanthropy.org or on +44 (0) 207 040 0262 (in the UK) or +1 212 513 0020 (in the US).

After The Giving Pledge: Giving Behaviour of 22 Donors

June 4, 2013

In February this year, the Gates Foundation announced that the Giving Pledge, founded by Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates in 2010, would for the first time extend its invitation to wealthy donors outside the US.  They added twelve signatories from eight non-US countries, bringing the total number of those who have so far taken the Pledge to 105. In response to this announcement, we conducted a survey of our own network of philanthropists to gauge their attitudes to the Pledge, the results of which can be viewed here. The findings of the survey raised several interesting points, of which the question of timeframe over which to disburse philanthropic assets was one.

To drill deeper into this issue, and to respond to interest from alumni of our donor education programmes, we asked philanthropists within our networks about the rate at which they intend to deploy their philanthropic assets.  They provided us with the following response about their giving behaviour.

About the 22 donors who responded to our survey

  • They come from the UK, the US, Brazil, Canada, Lebanon and Mexico;
  • They give away an annual average of $2,168,050;
  • Their foundations have an average endowment of $79,081,250;
  • Their areas of philanthropic giving, in order of frequency, are: education; children and youth; community re-generation; environment; healthcare; international development; women and girls; board governance; impact investing; reproductive health; film as a vehicle for social change; local charities; technology; transparency; human rights; encouraging philanthropy; encouraging non-profit impact; alleviation of poverty; religion; and historic preservation.
  • Eight donors had made provision for their families to pursue their own philanthropic goals separate to their own philanthropy.  Eight had not, and four others had not yet decided.

The rates of their giving

  • Of the twenty-two donors, seven had decided the precise time-frames within which they were looking to give away all of their philanthropic capital.  Three of them aim to do so within the next ten years; two of them aim to do so five to ten years after their death; one over the next five to eight years; and one over the course of the next twenty years.
  • One of the donors commented that “I strongly believe that philanthropy can be more effective when driven by the wishes and strategy of a living donor. Long-lasting philanthropic institutions can become sclerotic and bureaucratic, not always but often. Family foundations may end up with their hands tied, by a legacy directed at tackling a social problem that no longer exists. Innovation and risk taking is often reduced.
  • Another stated thatRisk taking and innovation are crucial for philanthropy. Philanthropy needs to be able to adapt as social problems and the needs of society change over time.”

The percentages of their giving


The values and beliefs that drive their giving

  • “Partnership: the more we (civil society, philanthropists, NGOs and activists) can work together towards a cause, the faster we can move the needle.  Engagement: not only personal engagement, but moral and legal and financial engagement.  Empower the organisation so they do the best they can to move the needle. Help the executive team to excel in their strategy and operations to achieve their mission and reach goals they have set with their trustees (and other constituencies).”
  • “I focus on leadership and because my funds are limited, I support smallish charities with dynamic leadership in unattractive and unpopular fields where it is difficult to raise funds.”
  • “Philanthropic capital should be deployed in the most strategic way possible.”
  • “I generally believe in addressing the needs of underserved poor in the neediest parts of the world (where I have worked for much of my professional life), not the arts or environmental needs so popular among donors here at home, or SOBs (symphony, opera, ballet) – as much as I love them personally.”
  • “Everybody deserves the opportunity to grow in a safe environment, with responsible, caring and self-sufficient parents, as well, to receive quality education. Seeing how many individuals and communities have improved their lives as a result of my father´s work in philanthropy is the best example of the importance of philanthropy in my life.”


For more information please contact:

Mary Glanville


+44 (0) 207 2400626

Sharing ideas: the Nexus Europe Youth Summit and Module Three of The Philanthropy Workshop

May 15, 2013

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 tpw@instituteforphilanthropy.org or on +44 (0) 207 040 0262 (in the UK) or +1 212 513 0020 (in the US). 

The Giving List, the Giving Pledge, and setting timelines for philanthropic giving

April 26, 2013

The Giving List, published annually alongside The Sunday Times Rich List, celebrates the philanthropy of Britain and Ireland’s most generous individuals. Ordered by proportion of wealth donated over the last year, the number one spot this year is occupied by Jersey-based David Kirch thanks to his recent £100m pledge to the island’s elderly. Giving List stalwarts Christopher Cooper-Hohn and Lord Sainsbury follow Kirch in second and third place, and newcomers Talal Shakerchi and Martin Lewis are ranked fourth and fifth on the list respectively.

Looking at the list as a whole, it’s encouraging  to see that there has been an overall increase in giving of 21% by Britain and Ireland’s wealthiest constituents, a finding which seems to run contrary to decline in charitable giving among the general public as reported by CAF in November last year.  This actually represents a decline in the total proportion of wealth donated compared to last year’s List; however, this is attributed to the fact that there has been a sharp increase in the overall fortunes of those on the Rich List.

There are plenty of other observations from the Giving List which give confidence. Not least the fact that there are several newcomers to this year’s list (highest rated are Talal Shakerchi and Martin Lewis); that the overall number of £1m plus gifts has risen over the last year; and that six of the wealthiest families have made the Top 150 of the Giving List for the first time.

Another interesting trend which is teased out by the List’s researchers is that of the growing desire amongst the wealthy to create a philanthropic legacy. They link this desire to generate the legacy during ones lifetime with the global success of the Giving Pledge, the campaign started by the Gates and Buffet to encourage the super-wealthy to give the majority of their assets to good causes. This year six (and soon to be seven) philanthropists on the List have signed the Pledge, and five of whom have made or will make their commitment in 2013.

Earlier this year, the Institute conducted a survey of its network of philanthropists to gauge their attitudes towards the Giving Pledge. We found that the issue of family and philanthropic legacy was one of great importance to respondents: in fact, a “wish to pass wealth to future generations” was the second most popular reason given by respondents for not signing the Pledge. The most popular reason was a “wish to remain private about my philanthropy”. For those who had signed the Pledge or adopted its principles, the most common motivation was “a wish to devote the majority of wealth to good causes”, a response which garnered eight times as many votes than a “belief that wealth is a burden on future generations”.

For many, issues of legacy and the proportion of one’s wealth one chooses to give away are closely linked to the timeframe over which philanthropic assets are deployed. Indeed, one respondent to our Giving Pledge survey said that in addition to signing the Pledge or adopting its principles, they intend to deploy all of their philanthropic assets in their lifetime due to their belief that this will affect more meaningful social change than if they left funds in a perpetual trust.

To drill deeper into these issues, and to respond to interest from the Alumni of our donor education programmes, the Institute is conducting a new survey of its network. On this occasion, we are looking at the different periods of time over which donors choose to deploy their philanthropic assets and how time-lines chosen affect and relate to philanthropic activity. The results will help to build a picture of whether philanthropists consider the issue of time-line as important to their philanthropy, and what affects factors affect the decisions made. The Institute has considered these issues before, most recently in our 2010 research report “The Power of Now: Spend out trusts and foundations in the UK”, and we hope that this new work will build on our previous research to provide useful insight for philanthropists and the philanthropic community alike.

If you would like more information about our new research on setting timelines for giving, please contact Daisy Wakefield at daisy@instituteforphilanthropy.org or on +44 (0) 207 040 0262. 

Relative Values: A conversation on philanthropy across generations

March 22, 2013

Last week, the Institute and Barclays hosted an exclusive event in central London on the topic of family philanthropy. Three prominent philanthropists – Hannah Rothschild of the Rothschild Foundation, Anna Southall of the Barrow Cadbury Trust and Katherine Lorenz of The Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation – formed a panel, facilitated by Mary Glanville, Managing Director UK of the Institute and introduced by Emma Turner, Director of Client Philanthropy Service at Barclays Wealth and Investment Management, to discuss their personal experiences of giving with an audience of over forty philanthropists.

At the Institute, we regularly consider the issues around next generation philanthropy – both in our education courses for donors as well as in our knowledge development programme – and we appreciate the unique challenges and opportunities that arise when giving as a family. As one panellist said, “family philanthropy can be very difficult – it can sometimes feel as though you have to choose between social impact and your relationship with your family”. Mary facilitated an informative and lively discussion between the panellists, who spoke frankly about their own experiences and in so doing provided practical advice to our audience. Here are some highlights of their discussion:

  • Getting involved in your family’s philanthropy can serve not only to develop understanding of best practice in philanthropy, but can also assist your professional career. One panellist explained that her experience of being a trustee at a young age gave her invaluable knowledge of governance which she used very successfully in her independent career. The knowledge transfer has worked both ways for each of our panellists as expertise gained in their respective careers has also given added dimension to their family’s giving.
  • It’s helpful to encourage the next generation to get involved in philanthropic activity at a very early age – perhaps by ring-fencing small sums of money and asking them to choose how to give it, or getting them to do a pitch on behalf of their chosen charity to the trustees of the foundation.
  • Recruiting trustees and staff members who are not members of your own family can be pivotal in bringing balance in structures dominated by family dynamics, as well as a different perspective to board discussions. You can also gain valuable issue-area expertise that members of your family may not already bring to the table.
  • Recognising the value of your name may enable you to use all of your assets for good; one of our speakers’ trusts took a strategic decision to allow grantees to say that they had received philanthropic money from them as they saw that it helped the groups they support to leverage other funding and strengthen their advocacy initiatives.
  • Think about the future of your family’s trust: consider setting a strategy that means the trust isn’t restricted to funding very specific issues in the future if they are no longer relevant. This may allow each generation to shape the focus of the trust and to ensure that its work is always appropriate for current needs.

The Institute for Philanthropy will be running a two-day education course for next generation philanthropists in London in June. For more information about this course, or any of our other donor education programmes, please contact the The Philanthropy Workshop team on: tpw@instituteforphilanthropy.org

Family philanthropy event with Barclays Wealth and Investment Management – summary coming soon!

March 14, 2013

The Institute for Philanthropy and Barclays Wealth and Investment Management last night hosted a conversation with three prominent philanthropists at an exclusive event focused on family philanthropy. We were delighted to welcome guests from a wide range of different geographies and philanthropic perspectives to hear what was a lively and informative discussion from the panel. Keep an eye on our blog next week for a summary of the discussions!

A response to the Giving Pledge announcement

February 19, 2013

The Giving Pledge is the most high profile public campaign promoting philanthropy among the wealthy. A unique, international survey of high net worth individuals has been conducted by the Institute for Philanthropy which reveals the attitudes of philanthropists to the Giving Pledge.

The majority of respondents (68.4%) estimate that they will give up to 50% of their wealth in their lifetimes. Of the 26.3% of respondents who estimated that they will give at least 50% of their wealth in their lifetimes less than half (four of ten) have signed up to the Giving Pledge or adopted its principles.  Two people (5%) did not respond to this question. 18.42% estimate they will give between 51-75% of wealth; 7.9% estimate they will give over 76% of wealth.  Furthermore, the majority have already decided the way in which they will carry out their giving (in their lifetimes, or through a vehicle after their death, for example).

David Sainsbury, one of the new Giving Pledge signatories announced today, explains his motivations for philanthropy: “A number of years ago my wife, Susie, and I decided that spending any more money on ourselves or our family would not add anything to our happiness, but that using it to support social progress was something that we both found deeply fulfilling. We, therefore, decided to transfer gradually most of our wealth to our charitable trusts, and looking back that has turned out to be a very life-enhancing decision.”

The motive for the four philanthropists who completed the survey and who have signed up to the Giving Pledge or have adopted principles is “Wish to devote the majority of wealth to good causes”, not “Wish to encourage other people to become more involved in philanthropy” or “Belief that wealth is a burden on future generations”.

Interestingly, our results indicate that the number of philanthropists who have already made the decision to commit the majority of their wealth to good causes is potentially much greater than the Giving Pledge campaign implies.

This could be due to a low level of knowledge of the Pledge among philanthropists (just over half of the respondents had heard of the Giving Pledge and knew what it consisted of (55.2%) and of those who have not heard of the Giving Pledge, half are in the UK (four people) and half in North America (three from the US and one from Canada)).

There are however other factors beyond a lack of knowledge: our survey found that the most common consideration behind not signing the Pledge or adopting principles is a desire to remain private. The second most popular consideration was a wish to pass wealth to future generations.


  • Respondents came from seven different countries, the UK (39.5%) and US (36.8%) were the most common geographies, however we also had respondents from Canada, Mexico, Netherlands, Finland and Italy.
  • The average annual giving of respondents is $1,532,941 (result possibly skewed by two donors who are giving away very large sums of money). One third of respondents are giving away at least $1m annually.
  • Of those who have signed up or have adopted the principles of the Giving Pledge, these people are giving away at least $1m philanthropically a year
  • The timeframe in which giving will take place is fairly mixed: 26.3% said the majority of giving would be carried out during the philanthropists lifetime, 31.5% said that there would be a vehicle for philanthropy after their death, and 29% said that they had not decided yet.
  • The majority of respondents reported they believed that the Giving Pledge would result in an increase in philanthropic money (71%).
  • Many respondents expressed the belief that the role of philanthropy was not just to “throw money at problems”; rather it should be well-researched, thought through and strategically deployed for impact. As one donor said of the Giving Pledge: “money shouldn’t be the only thing acknowledged”.
  • The survey was distributed throughout an influential network of philanthropists, many of whom have graduated from The Philanthropy Workshop (TPW) programme which educates major donors in the skills of strategic philanthropy.
  • 38 people responded to the survey


For more information please contact:

Daisy Wakefield,


+44 (0) 207 2400626

Three “The Philanthropy Workshop” Alumni are honoured at prestigious philanthropy awards

February 14, 2013

In the week when media attention was focussed on the charitable status afforded to what appears to be a financial vehicle, the Cup Trust received far more media attention than the Beacon Fellowship Awards did.   The Beacon Fellowships recognise a broad range of philanthropic activity contributing time, talent and money to achieving meaningful social change.

There is a growing body of evidence – compiled by Beth Breeze at the Centre for Charitable Giving and Philanthropy and others – which shows that the press is much more likely to depict philanthropists in a negative light than a positive one, preferring to focus on lifestyle, wealth and appearance rather than social impact. This begs the question of what more can we do to raise awareness and celebration of the positive contributions of philanthropy to society?  We believe that the Beacon Awards represent a positive step towards redressing the balance in the way in which philanthropy is viewed in the UK.

Now in its eighth year, the Beacon Awards, which are sponsored by J.P. Morgan Private Bank and supported by the City of London Corporation’s charity City Bridge Trust and Pears Foundation, are given to individuals, families and small groups of individuals working collaboratively for outstanding philanthropic achievement across seven distinct categories.  Names familiar to the public, though perhaps not for philanthropy, including J K Rowling OBE and Sir Ronald Cohen were among the recipients, as were three alumni of The Philanthropy Workshop (TPW), our flagship programme.

Marcelle Speller and Nicholas and Jane Ferguson, who all participated in TPW between 2006 and 2008, have developed effective strategies to support local communities in the UK.  Marcelle Speller, along with Richard Bradbury, Stephen Dawson and Michael Norton, was given the “Beacon Award for Pioneering Philanthropy” for having demonstrated an original approach in meeting a social, environmental or charitable cause.  As a result of participating in TPW, Marcelle set up Localgiving.com, a digital platform that makes fundraising easy for small, local charities and their supporters. The groups on the site, which are vetted by Community Foundations or Localgiving.com, are also able to use the platform to raise awareness and support for their work, as well as raising funds. Since its launch in 2008, the initiative has gone from strength to strength: in 2012 over £3million donations, Gift Aid and match funding was channelled to 3,000+ local charities and community groups registered to the site.

Marcelle commented: “I’m delighted to receive the award – to be honoured by your peers is the ultimate accolade. I’m especially happy that the impact Localgiving.com is having on small, local charities and community groups has been recognised in this way.  And without the inspiration and great supportive friends that I received from the Institute for Philanthropy workshop, it would never have happened.”

Nicholas and Jane Ferguson and Jack Morris were awarded the “Beacon Award for Place-Based Philanthropy”, which celebrates the work of an individual, family or small group of individuals working collaboratively, whose giving serves a geographical area — whether a village, city, region or country.  Together with their family, Nicholas and Jane run The Kilfinan Trust, which supports communities in Kintyre, Mid Argyll and the Cowal Peninsula in Argyll and Bute. In particular, their philanthropy is focussed on families, young people and the elderly, which are groups that are particularly vulnerable in this isolated and rural area.

Following the announcement of the award, Nicholas said: “This award, for our work with young people and the elderly in Argyll and Bute, stemmed directly from both of us having undertaken the TPW course. We knew we wanted to be of concrete help to our own community. The Philanthropy Workshop taught us how to go about it, and gave us the confidence to do so.”

Despite the Beacon Awards honouring numerous examples of philanthropic achievement and the Cup Trust being an individual case, the latter still received far more media attention, which goes to show that there is still some way to go in raising awareness of the social value of philanthropy. The Beacon Awards make an important contribution to this effort; the Institute is reviewing how we can better utilise our assets to play a bigger part in raising the profile of philanthropy too.

To find out more about The Philanthropy Workshop and the work of the Institute for Philanthropy, please visit our website or email tpw@instituteforphilanthropy.org

The future of philanthropy: collaboration and partnerships are increasingly important

February 6, 2013

A growing trend, identified in the annual Family Foundation Giving Trends (PDF) report released in December 2012, is an increase in existing and proposed strategic collaboration and financial partnerships among donors. This is a trend that we have seen grow within our own influential network of philanthropists, many of whom have graduated from The Philanthropy Workshop (TPW) programme which educates major donors in the skills of strategic philanthropy.

These partnerships go beyond “traditional” giving circles and co-funding opportunities. The Indigo Trust funds technology driven projects primarily in Africa, but also uses social and digital media to connect with other funders and share insight. The fundraising community can benefit greatly from the expanded use of social media by donors, gaining a valuable insight into their activities and requirements. The Oak Foundation, which is led by TPW alumnus Dr. Kristian Parker, has taken part in large-scale collaborations with other donors in order to leverage resources, for example to create an institution or fill a gap in infrastructure.

While collaboration and partnership are not new concepts, they are becoming an increasingly important part of the way in which philanthropists work. Facilitated by new technologies, partnerships formed for a range of objectives are set to become commonplace among philanthropists wishing to maximise the impact of their work.

By Mary Glanville, Managing Director of the Institute for Philanthropy in the UK.

This post first appeared in the January – March 2013 edition of Bond‘s “The Networker” magazine. Please click here to read the full magazine (PDF).