I have to say that I am much enjoying watching from afar the opening events of the Diamond Jubilee. It is the way with major events that long and often difficult periods of planning eventually give way to seeing the event itself unfold when it is far too late to do anything other than to enjoy the occasion.
I HAVE TO say that I am much enjoying watching from afar the opening events of the Diamond Jubilee. It is the way with major events that long and often difficult periods of planning eventually give way to seeing the event itself unfold when it is far too late to do anything other than to enjoy the occasion.
Ten years ago, as the Queen’s private secretary, I was participating in the opening events of the Golden Jubilee and the months of meticulous preparation were being rewarded by huge crowds and much pleasure generated by the Queen’s very busy programme up and down the country. That same pleasure — with even greater intensity — is again apparent this year. I only hope my successors in the Royal household are beginning to enjoy the experience as much as I did ten years ago.
One of the themes which we tried to emphasise then — and the same theme is already evident this year — is the unique role played by the Queen and other members of the Royal family in supporting and encouraging charities and voluntary work. Through patronages and the creation of innovative charities of their own — the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme and the Prince’s Trust being the obvious examples — the Royal family plays a vital role in encouraging the third sector and recognising the contribution it makes at every level.
WHEN I STEPPED down from my role at Buckingham Palace in 2007, one of the things I wanted to do was try to make some kind of contribution to the third sector, not only by trying to help one or two charities directly, but also by looking for ways to encourage more philanthropy in this country.
We are a generous nation. In 2009/10 more than £10 billion was given to charity, and we are often seen as second only to the United States in our generosity. But is this the full story? Although a small number of generous people give a huge amount — some 8 per cent give nearly half the total given — it is an uncomfortable fact that the poorest 10 per cent of donors give proportionally more of their total spending to charity than the richest 10 per cent. If we compare our giving to that of the United States among the wealthy, those in the UK earning over £200,000 a year give £2 to charity for every £1,000 they earn compared to an equivalent £90 for every £1,000 among their peer group in the US. We probably could do better.
AS I AM currently chairing the Philanthropy Advisors Forum, I am particularly interested in looking at ways in which we in the Forum, along with similar organisations, can be more effective in developing this advisory service. Looking at ways to increase giving is particularly important at a time of economic difficulty, when government, particularly at local level, is having to find savings from budgets allocated to supporting charities at a time when the demands on those charities are often increasing.
This need to address the whole culture of philanthropy in this country has been widely recognised by many independent initiatives, such as the 2010 Philanthropy Review and the Give More campaign launched this year.
Although the present economic climate may not be the easiest one within which to attempt to change the culture of philanthropy, there are other developments which make it a good time to encourage more giving. Technology and social media are already having an impact on wider charity campaigns through, for example, more online giving opportunities, rounding-up schemes and ATM-based campaigns. The process of giving, particularly for major donors, is also changing.
New philanthropists have been bringing their business acumen to bear on their giving agendas. They are much more interested in remaining closely engaged in ensuring the effectiveness of their giving, demanding greater accountability and the measurement of results.
They are more likely to be looking for opportunities to work together to leverage their funding, and more interested in looking for innovative ways of charity financing, for example through a venture philanthropy approach or social impact investment. The field is exciting — but more complex.
There is therefore an increasing need for financial advisers to know more about philanthropy, to be able to raise the subject with their clients and to advise them on it. We are increasingly seeing the emergence of the philanthropy adviser as a specialised profession, and there is clearly a need to spread greater knowledge of philanthropy among the existing wealth management community. More and better advice should lead to more and better giving.
THIS BRINGS ME back to the Jubilee. One excellent initiative this year is the launch of the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, which has been established to honour the Queen’s lifetime of duty and to create an enduring legacy to her 60 years of service by investing in projects across the Commonwealth. Interested? Have a look at jubileetribute.org. All donations — large or small — will be much valued and received with grateful thanks.