UK YPI participants donate over £1 million to charity!

December 20, 2012

December 2012 was a landmark milestone for the Youth Philanthropy Initiative (YPI) in the UK: grants won for grassroots charities by pupils across the UK reached a grand total of £1 million!

Since launching in one school in London in 2006, YPI is now delivered in eighty five schools across England, eighty one in Scotland and, for the first time this year, in five Northern Irish schools.  The past six years have seen groups of young people across the United Kingdom identify a cause they care about and subsequently champion a local charity that commits time and effort to that cause.  Thanks to the passion, compassion, and dedication of these young people, YPI has been able to channel hundreds of grants of £3,000 to grassroots charities operating within their communities.

On 13th December 2012, pupils, staff and charity representatives celebrated this milestone at Lampton School in Hounslow, London, whilst the following day a similar celebratory event took place north of the border at Banchory Academy, Aberdeenshire.

The significance of this achievement is clear, especially as the UK’s national and local governments are further tightening the amount of funding available to charities delivering crucial services to their communities. Having spoken to many of the charities represented by YPI Participants, it is evident that their financial and human resources are suffering at this time but that the efforts and engagement shown by YPI participants is invaluable as the charities seek to foster a wider support base from within in their communities.

Kudzai, a Year 10 student from Lampton School, who is currently participating in the YPI programme, said: “YPI helped me to understand that there are people right here in my local community working tirelessly to bring about change and do the right thing. Most people my age look at our community and struggle to find inspiration but I’ve learnt that there are people right here in Hounslow working hard to make a difference and that’s inspired me to try and do what I can.”

Statements such as Kudzai’s are common from students taking part in the programme and represent a sense of responsibility to their communities present in the younger generation that all too often goes unrecognised.  As YPI donations in the UK pass the £1 million mark, we of course look forward to many more millions of pounds donated in years to come but even more so to the many thousands of young people that will commit their time, talent, and creativity to fight for causes important to them in their communities.  Here’s to the next stage of YPI’s growth in the UK.

Written by George Macpherson, YPI Schools Coordinator in the UK

You can find out more about YPI here:


Impact investing for community revitalisation

December 19, 2012

Socially-responsible investing. Mission-related investing. Impact investing. While the terms are not new, deploying capital beyond traditional grant mechanisms is a growing trend among philanthropists—individuals, foundations and corporations alike. The Philanthropy Workshop alumni and participants, along with other philanthropists in our broader network, travelled from Canada, Mexico, Texas, Pennsylvania and New York to meet with seasoned impact investing practitioners for a workshop last week to help us unpack the strategies behind the terminology.

We approached our workshop from two angles: (1) how can an individual make a shift to investing more assets for mission and persuade others, like family or board members, to adopt this strategy; and (2) what does it take to actually select and manage these mission-related investments and how do they uniquely help achieve positive returns for society?

To answer these questions we were joined by:

  • Clara Miller, President of F.B. Heron Foundation, dedicated to helping low-income people and communities help themselves. Heron made a bold move this year to invest 100% of its $250 million endowment for mission.
  • Angela Mwanza and Mark Sloss, Private Wealth Advisors, UBS who work with affluent families to implement high performing, values-based investments.
  • Andi Phillips, Vice President of the Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group & COO of 10,000 Small Businesses, the firm’s initiative to provide capital and mentoring to owners of small businesses in cities throughout the United States.
  • Robin Hacke, former venture capitalist and tech entrepreneur who is Director of the Living Cities Catalyst Fund, seeded by 22 of the largest family and corporate foundations to deploy investment capital in low-income and underserved urban communities.

Before we share practical tips from our experts, below are a few key definitions drawn from the Social Investment Forum and Mission Investors Exchange and presented by UBS:

Sustainable and Responsible Investing (SRI) considers both the investor’s financial needs and an investment’s impact on society. SRI investors encourage corporations to improve their practices on environmental, social and governance issues. You may also hear SRI-like approaches to investing referred to as mission investing, double or triple bottom line investing, sustainable investing or green investing.

Mission Related Investing covers two distinct categories of investments: market-rate mission-related investments (MRIs) that have a positive social impact while contributing to long-term financial stability and growth; and program-related investments (PRIs) that are designed to achieve specific program objectives while earning a below market rate return.

Impact Investments are investments made into companies, organizations and funds with the intention to generate measurable social and environmental impact alongside a financial return. Impact investments can be made in both emerging and developed markets and target a range of returns from below market to market rate, depending on the circumstances. Impact investors actively seek to place capital in businesses and funds that can harness the positive power of the enterprise.

Here are the Top 10 Tips shared by our experts:

  1. Family members and/or foundation trustees might be skeptical about impact investing, preferring to manage the investment of endowment assets completely separate from the programmatic activities of the foundation. To overcome this hurdle, a helpful piece of advice is to simply say: “Let’s try it” and remind people that “it’s not new, it’s just different.” Once people experience a deal or two, they often become more excited by the opportunities to use capital in ways beyond traditional grants and gain a greater understanding of what it takes to run and grow and organization.
  2. An entity that governs itself in a way that is good for the community, the environment and the bottom line is arguably a good company to invest in, regardless of intent to be socially responsible.
  3. If you want to start adding socially-responsible investments to your portfolio, the most important guidance you can give your financial advisor is a clear mission and vision for your charitable work. That mission and vision serves as the framework to inform your investment policy statement that a financial advisor can then follow.
  4. One of the best ways to learn how to make social impact investments is to pool resources with more experienced impact investors—learn by doing. Another productive strategy to match lenders with borrowers is to go through a community-based intermediary familiar with the local social dynamics and institutions. In the United States, for example, certified Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) are a good resource for deals. CDFIs provide a unique range of financial products and services in economically distressed target markets, such as mortgage financing for low-income and first-time homebuyers and not-for-profit developers, flexible underwriting and risk capital for needed community facilities, and technical assistance, commercial loans and investments to small start-up or expanding businesses in low-income areas.
  5. While providing loans to scale a community business or organization is important, so is access to business expertise/mentors to help build the capacity of the small business owners and leaders of community organizations.
  6. For financial services firms in the lending arena, a strong argument can be made that it’s good business to put capital toward social impact. Firms already make placed-based investments, most notably underwriting real estate deals. These transactions are more likely to succeed in thriving communities—neighborhoods with good schools, health care, housing and retail businesses. So, adding a social impact component that helps serve communities where the investment is made is a good practice.
  7. Perhaps surprisingly, in the field of impact investing, the challenge is less a supply than demand problem. There often are more funds available to be lent or invested than there are investees capable of effectively deploying large amounts of money—i.e., a capital absorption problem exists. Many organizations are not yet equipped to take on loans and go to scale.
  8. However, once an organization is prepared to go to scale, philanthropic contributions are not enough. Access to significant debt capital to grow the organization—“enterprise-level” capital—is key.
  9. A common “mistake” among new impact investors is to set harder underwriting requirements than for commercial loans.
  10. The best community investments typically involve a consortium of organizations working together with a wide range of civic leaders, supporting a clear vision and a “big hairy audacious goal” or “BHAG.”

This post was written by Tracy Mack Parker, who is Managing Director of the Institute in the US.

The ‘Impact Investing for Community Revitalisation’ event took place on the 13th December in New York. The event was open to philanthropists; for more information about the Institute’s events in New York, please contact Jodi Chao:

TPW Alumni are honoured at the Spears Wealth Management Awards

November 6, 2012

The great and the good of the private wealth management world turned out last Tuesday for the Spears Wealth Management Awards, which this year took place at auction house Phillips de Pury in London. The awards, which are now in their sixth year, celebrate the UK’s top wealth managers, philanthropists, lawyers, and entrepreneurs for their successes, innovations and acumen in the year 1 July 2011 to 30 June 2012. Whilst we could not attend the evening ourselves, we were so pleased to hear that this year the two awards for philanthropy (Philanthropist of the Year and Lifetime Achievement in Philanthropy award) were given to the Indigo Trust’s Fran Perrin, and The Funding Network’s Fred Mulder, both of whom are alumni of the Institute’s Philanthropy Workshop.

Fran Perrin, who is also a trustee of the Institute for Philanthropy, was awarded Philanthropist of the Year for her work with the Indigo Trust, a London-based grant-making foundation which supports technology driven projects to bring about social change, largely in African countries. The trust, which is still relatively young, has made great impact in affecting change in the areas in which it works, primarily in innovation, transparency and citizen-empowerment. Importantly, the Indigo Trust also represents a fantastic example of a truly strategic foundation: by investing in locally-driven initiatives, the trust is able to catalyse further social change in the communities in which its grantees work.

Fred Mulder, with three other donors, founded The Funding Network (TFN), “the friendly Dragons’ Den for charities”, in 2002. The premise of TFN is simple: that giving is more interesting, more satisfying, and probably more competent if it is done in the company of other people. One of the first open giving circles in the UK, TFN has quickly become a huge success, regularly attracting a diverse mixture of donors who are pitched to by local, national and international charitable projects. To date, TFN groups across the country have raised over £4 million for over 590 charities, an enormous achievement. Fred was also the winner of the Judges Special Beacon Fellowship Prize in March 2004, and was awarded a CBE for Services to Philanthropy in the 2012 New Year honours list.

In response to receiving the award, Fran Perrin said last week:

“I’m surprised and delighted to be awarded the Spears Wealth Management Awards Philanthropist of the Year. I hope this recognises both my passion for strategic philanthropy and also the importance of using modern technologies to improve lives across African countries. I’m very proud of the work of the Indigo Trust and the fantastic team who make it possible to support extraordinary individuals and projects.

I’m particularly pleased to see the Spears Lifetime Achievement in Philanthropy award go to Dr Frederick Mulder who, like me, has worked with the Institute for Philanthropy to help donors achieve impact.”

Both awards are extremely well-deserved, and we congratulate both Fran and Fred for their fantastic contribution to philanthropy.

Collaboration: a leveraged way of investing in social change?

November 1, 2012

“Collaboration” is a word that is frequently heard in philanthropy circles. With it, often comes the promise of greater resource, heightened efficiency, better knowledge of issues, clearer strategy and, above all, greater overall social impact. Indeed, the objective of taking part in any kind of collaboration is to achieve more than the sum of individual parts; and with that potential for leverage, why continue to work alone? But in practice, achieving optimal results through collaboration can be much more challenging than it sounds. Giving up sole decision-making power, compromising on strategy, balancing the equality of partners, as well as maintaining productive relationships between collaborators are oft-cited difficulties that frequently threaten to jeopardise the outcomes of working in partnership. From the NGO perspective, issues can arise around perceived competition for limited resources and control – when philanthropists pool their resources on a common cause, does that mean less funding for individual NGOs pursuing what seem unique missions?

In mid-October, the Institute for Philanthropy brought together members of the current cohort of The Philanthropy Workshop (TPW) as well as TPW alumni to discuss with practitioners the opportunities and challenges around collaboratives of all shapes and sizes: both between donors, as well as between funders and the not-for-profit sector at large.

Dr. Kristian Parker, TPW alumnus and Chair of Oak Foundation, opened the morning’s session with a presentation of the Foundation’s approach to collaboration. Oak’s mission is to address issues of global, social and environmental concern, particularly those that have major impact on the lives of the disadvantaged. Given the magnitude of these problems, coupled with Oak’s decision not to run projects in-house and to keep foundation staff relatively lean, Kristian explained that collaboration presents a brilliant opportunity to leverage resources – both financial and human capital (e.g., partner foundations’ expert staff ) – to affect a greater change than they could achieve alone.

Sometimes, Oak may collaborate with other funders to create an institution to fill a gap in social change infrastructure, like a coordinated advocacy coalition to advance public policy solutions. European Climate Foundation (ECF) is one such example. Founded in 2007 by a group of philanthropists (including Oak) who together recognised the need for concerted action on climate change mitigation, ECF promotes climate and energy policies that greatly reduce Europe’s greenhouse gas emissions and help Europe play an even stronger leadership role in the debate around climate change.

Patty Fong, Programme Director for Energy Efficiency at ECF, was our second speaker of the morning. Patty explained that ECF frequently plays a role in building coalitions in the energy efficiency community itself. ECF funded, for example, the Energy Revolution Alliance in the UK and DENEFF in Germany. A multi-stakeholder collaboration model for the policy advocacy community requires, Patty argues, a well-defined shared value proposition, a neutral platform for exchange and trust building and strong and clear leadership. Oak’s investment in ECF, an organisation expert at managing effective partnerships itself, therefore represents a kind of ‘double leverage’: by partnering with other philanthropies to create an institution that can further catalyse collaboration amongst other stakeholders, Oak effectively multiplied the social impact of its initial grant.

Our final speaker of the morning was Ben Jackson, Chief Executive at Bond, who shared his experience of coordinating large-scale collaborations among NGOs working in international development. Ben spoke about his experience mobilising coalitions in fast developing crises or on-going conflicts (for example around the struggle in Darfur), where a coordinated effort is needed to address a problem. Whilst putting together coalitions can be vital to deliver much-needed assistance, Ben also emphasised the importance of ending partnerships where they are no longer needed: there’s often no point maintaining a coalition where the reason it was initially created no longer exists.

When programming a session for TPW on a topic in philanthropy, one of our aims is to challenge participants to think differently about how they approach their philanthropy. Key lessons that emerged included vital components that make up a productive partnership: a united common purpose, clear strategy and goals, a joint evaluation and exit strategy, as well as effective leadership. Creating and running these collaborations are often best managed by a lead entity able to dedicate the time and resources to help unlock the full potential of each co-investor and partner on the ground making a concerted effort to achieve lasting change.

This post was written by Tracy Mack Parker, who is the Managing Director of the Institute for Philanthropy in the US. 

Contacting our New York office this week

October 31, 2012

The Institute’s New York office will likely be closed for the rest of this week due to the effects of Hurricane Sandy. Tracy, Jodi and Otar currently have intermittent access to email and phone, so please forgive the delay in response to any queries. If you have an urgent enquiry, please contact the London office at or +44 (0) 207 240 0262.

The Philanthropy Plus Learning Day scheduled for 1st November in New York has been postponed. If you were registered to attend the event, the TPW team will be in contact soon with a new date. If you couldn’t make the 1st November originally, and are interested in joining us on the new date, please let us know on

31st October 2012

Module One of the 19th Cohort of The Philanthropy Workshop starts this week

October 15, 2012

Last night at a dinner in central London we were excited to welcome ten philanthropists to join the nineteenth cohort of The Philanthropy Workshop (TPW). This week marks the beginning of the year-long programme of learning where participants will acquire the knowledge, skills and networks to achieve the maximum impact in their giving. Over the course of the year, the philanthropists will attend three one-week modules; the first in London, the next in Patagonia, and the final one in New York.  By the end of TPW some of them will refine a strategy they are already implementing, while others will come away with a completely new vision for their philanthropy.

Module One is focussed upon understanding the principles of, and building the skills for, strategic philanthropy.  We examine questions such as: What is strategic philanthropy?  How do you conduct due diligence on charities?  Participants will learn about the various levers that philanthropy can push to effect lasting social change, and will be able to identify pitfalls to avoid.  We will hear from a wide range of sector leaders who will illustrate different approaches to and best practice in social change work including Danyal Sattar of the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, TPW alumnus and Chairman of the Oak Foundation Dr. Kristian Parker, Graham Allen MP, and Mark Woodruff of the Sainsbury Family Charitable Trusts. The cohort will be challenged to analyse the effectiveness of the strategy and communications used by those they interact with, leaving them eager to spend more time learning about social problems and solutions so that they can create or catalyse greater positive change in the world.  This learning isn’t complete after the three-week programme; strategic philanthropists are those who continue to learn over time and adapt to changing circumstances and new opportunities.

In the coming weeks we’ll be reporting back from some of the sessions from TPW on our blog, so keep checking this site for updates.

If you have any questions about The Philanthropy Workshop, please email the TPW team on

Getting started with social media for charities

October 11, 2012

Last week the Institute held a webinar surgery on the application of social media to further charitable organisations’ missions. The session was hosted by TPW alumni and social media experts Fran and William Perrin of the Indigo Trust, who did a fantastic job of tackling participants’ queries, challenges and worries about using social media within their work.  Many people joined us from across the globe to hear Fran and William’s presentation, which gave advice as to how to ‘get started’ on social media, busted social media myths like ‘it’s only for young people’ (it’s not!), and offered examples of what social media could do to further the work of the not-for-profit sector as a whole. Following the presentation, the audience were invited to ask our speakers questions about how they could best use social media as tools to work towards achieving their charitable goals. The whole session was both interesting and insightful, and participants left with some very practical tips to maximise the digital tools at their disposal.

Here are our top tips for getting started on social media:

  1. Think of approaching social media like arriving at a cocktail party: listen and watch for a bit first before you join in with the conversation.
  2. Don’t be afraid: the best way to learn is to play around with it. If you are interested, perhaps you could join Twitter or Facebook personally to see what it’s like before you do anything professionally.
  3. Don’t be put off by jargon.
  4. Think about what you have to contribute; not just words, but pictures, audio and video as well.
  5. Be yourself!

If you would like to watch and listen to a recording of the webinar, please email Daisy Wakefield at 

The Institute for Philanthropy published a paper (which was generously funded by the Indigo Trust) on the topic of ‘Philanthropy and Social Media’. The paper offers a wealth of information on the topic and is available in PDF format here.

Kurt Hoffman’s review of Caroline Fiennes’ latest book, ‘It Ain’t What You Give It’s The Way That You Give It’

September 13, 2012

Kurt’s review of Caroline Fiennes’  book on effective philanthropy is now available to subscribers on the Alliance magazine website. In the piece, Kurt argues:

The author’s main focus is on how to ensure donors secure the greatest social benefit from the resources they channel through charities to effect social change. In so doing, many common practices of donors that cause problems for charities are identified. But charities should also note the central message of this book: that not all charities are equally good, and their performance can vary widely. In fact from society’s perspective it is not just good charitable performers that should be supported but donors’ resources should flow in large part to the bestperformers. Comparative measurement of impact is a trend that many charities and many donors still resist, for reasons to do with practicality and cost. So here’s the debating point. Comparative performance evaluation of charities (and donors) would indeed be costly and disruptive. But from a societal point of view, the benefits arising from being able to channel scarce social change resources to those actors and actions that can achieve the most might be much, much greater than the costs involved.

Maybe the title of this book should really have been ‘It Ain’t What You Get, It’s How Much Good You Do With It’.

You can access the full article here.

Thoughts from the Indigo Trust on the role of foundations in funding technology in Africa

August 10, 2012

Loren Treisman, Trust Executive of the Indigo Trust (TPW alumna and Institute board member Fran Perrin’s charitable foundation) has written a very interesting article for the BBC about the role of foundations in supporting the ICT sector in Africa, highlighting that the best solutions to Africa’s challenges will come from the communities which are affected by them.

In it, Loren says:

“It is my hope that a combination of philanthropic, institutional and private sector investment in technology innovation hubs, early stage tech start-ups and tech for social change projects will have a catalytic effect in stimulating both economic growth and improved social outcomes.”

The article has been published on the BBC website, and you can read the full version here.

You can learn more about the Indigo Trust by reading their blog or by following them on Twitter @indigotrust

Our CEO Kurt Hoffman at Environmental Finance’s 2012 Impact Investing conference

July 31, 2012

Kurt Hoffman will be moderating a panel discussion on ‘Collaborations and Partnerships’ at Environmental Finance‘s ‘Impact Investing 2012’ conference on the 4th October in London. The day-long conference will analyse and debate the most effective ways for investors to generate environmental, social and financial returns, and will also feature a keynote address from Lord Fink, Chief Executive Officer of ISAM.

The Institute ran a series of seminars on investing for impact in 2011 (the results of which you can see on our website here) and this topic is one of Kurt’s key areas of expertise, developed over the eleven years he spent first as architect and then as Director of the Shell Foundation.  To coincide with this year’s London Alumni Reunion starting on the 17th of October, the Institute will also be running a day-long ‘Deep Dive’ course that will provide an in-depth exploration of donor collaboration and partnerships.

To read more about the conference, please click here. Environmental Finance have generously offered a 30% discount for members of the TPW alumni network. For more details about how to claim this discount, please contact Daisy Wakefield on +44 (0)20 7240 0262 or