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

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, 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, 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 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


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