Here are some key quotes from the Spear’s/Speechly Bircham/Cazenove philanthropy seminar, an introduction to how to be a philanthropist in the 21st century.
How do you start giving?
Ian Watson, Watson Family Foundation: ‘Philanthropy should start with passion.’
John Studzinski, Genesis Foundation: ‘I started working in a soup kitchen when I was six years old — so I knew early on I had to have passion.’
‘Many people who have a lot of money are not comfortable with giving. You mustn’t work on the assumption that people want to give.’
Nigel Kershaw OBE, CEO, Big Issue Invest: ‘Sometimes when people follow their passion, they follow the wrong thing.’
John Studzinski: ‘You have to develop your own confidence level to decide how to go about giving… and hearing about other people’s experiences is a very important thing.’
Why should I set up a foundation?
Dominic Lawrence, Speechly Bircham: ‘A foundation can offer the tax benefits of direct charitable giving, but with bells and whistles, and one of the bells is tax benefits giving abroad.’
‘Many people when setting up a foundation develop an overly specific set of objectives, and then find later on that these are effectively set in stone.’
Ian Watson: ‘We’re set up as a wind-down foundation. We wanted our daughter to learn about giving away money and having a family foundation was the best way to do that. At 21 she’ll be a trustee, and hopefully when she turns 35 she can come in as a managing director. It’s a training [for her eventual inherited wealth].’
‘We wanted hands-on involvement, I apply my entrepreneurial thinking to the charity I get involved in.’
How important are costs in judging a charity?
John Studzinski: ‘A lot of philanthropy has to do with leadership, management, and getting the right people in the right place at the right time… bringing people together and knowing that good that will come of it.’
Nigel Kershaw: ‘People can get fixated on the cost, and not on achievement.’
Dominic Lawrence: ‘A lot of impact measurement misses the point… Ultimately you have to go with your gut feeling.’
Alexia Zavos, Cazenove Capital Management: ‘There’s often too much focus on a charity’s administration costs.’
Nigel Kershaw: ‘You need your business to be lean, but not so lean it’s anorexic.’
How important is personal satisfaction from philanthropy?
John Studzinski: ‘One has to be selfish in philanthropy and say, “What do I get from this personally?”‘
Ian Watson: ‘I don’t see it as an obligation to give back, I think that as human beings you automatically want to help others.’
Should charities accept dirty money?
Alexia Zavos: ‘There was a big scandal in 2007 when it turned out that 41 per cent of the Gates Foundation’s money was invested in areas that ran counter to the foundation.’
‘A key trend in philanthropy is the shift from purely making grants to using investment strategies to create systemic change. Aligning financial investments with values and leveraging assets has become increasingly possible as the field of SRI has evolved.’
John Studzinski, on working with Mother Teresa: ‘She always used to say the dirtier the money, the better.’
’It’s easier to have a holier-than-thou attitude, and that’s dangerous.’