Archive for the ‘Communications’ Category

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,

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 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, 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 or on +44 (0) 207 040 0262 (in the UK) or +1 212 513 0020 (in the US). 


Philanthropy Lesson #004: “Tell Tales”

September 9, 2010

Philanthropy is a field dominated by facts and figures.  Donors and advisors alike, understandably keen to show that they are making significant strides in the areas of their choice, are increasingly focused upon the clear and careful evaluation of their work. 

This is a welcome development; yet it is important that it does not come at the expense of an intangible but no less important part of the philanthropy world, that of storytelling.

Storytelling is one of the most valuable aspects of philanthropy.  Before the first cheque of grant money is given, there must be a strategy; before the strategy is drawn up, there must be a vision of a successful story that will be enabled by that cheque. 

An example: in an item that tops our week’s Press Highlights, George Soros has just awarded $100million to Human Rights Watch, the largest-ever sum that this organisation has received.  And whilst Mr. Soros was undoubtedly drawn to the charity’s efficiency, the chances are that he was also taken with its compelling narrative of the world that it was working to bring about.

Some months ago, The BBC World Service ran a piece on their website on this very subject, noting that their listeners were as interested in their “soft” stories – i.e., those with an element of human interest – as their “hard” stories, which had a tougher, somewhat worthier edge.  Indeed, it’s notable that some of the most successful organisations we have encountered – like, say, Atlantic Philanthropies – are those who can not only crunch the numbers but also provide vivid illustrations of their work.  That’s why efforts such as those by The Daily Tell should be applauded; a website which takes time every few days to highlight the success stories in charitable giving.  Long may they, and many others in the philanthropic sector, continue telling tales.