Monday, 30 January 2012

Philanthropy is not fair

With all the talk of bankers (or as I prefer, banksters) bonus' and whether they could, should, might give them to charity it is worth reminding ourselves of why people give. After all, as some of you know, I'm doing a bloody PhD on the "Nature of Philanthropy" and some of the bankers I've talked to in the past have actually been really quite nice people with a social conscience!

Equally, as the Guardian put it, most people don't want charity, they want fairness. Equality of opportunity whether it's in jobs and homes or clean water and food. Giving philanthropically does little to address those concerns but may still help make the world a slightly better place. It doesn't matter whether it's Bill Gates trying to abolish polio (winning) or malaria (way to go) or a mere mortal making a more modest £10 per month to help bring books to kids trying to get educated. The charitable intention is, I believe, a healthy one and capable of making the world a nice place both in the givers' own community or country as well as where the funds are used.

However, just as inducing a guilt trip for a quick one-off donation is, usually, counter productive for developing good relations with a giver; so, blackmailing a bonus receiver into forgoing it or giving it to "charidy" will probably provoke a backlash in the individual's own charitable motivations and also in his or her working community. Maybe, just maybe, we've got to use intellectual persuasion to change beliefs in order to change attitude and behaviour as those of you who've read the "Spectrum of Philanthropy" might twig.

It's a harder, longer, slower path but I think it could pay dividends.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Happy New Year (or is it?)

Last year I posed the question where are the baby boomer philanthropists? Bingo the New Year honours list has 14 according to Howard Lake at This list includes Doug Ellis and Paul Ruddock as well as my old Cranfield mate Mike Bear (now Sir Michael - so many congratulations!)

Perhaps most notable of these good doing generally baby boomers is probably Gerald Ronson for his (reported by Civil Society) £100m fundraised for charity (and £30m donated!) after a spell in prison in the 1990s. This is a bit reminicent of John Profumo who, (after the Christine Keeler scandel) spent many years working in the East End for Toynbee Hall. Maybe redemption (or the pursuit of) is something we all begin to think about as age beckons. I for one have certainly started thinking about these things far more since hitting 60. So what lessons are there for fundraisers?

Well don't assume we've all found god. Giving motivation is (as I'm discovering) fiendishily complex and anyone who says otherwise doesn't have a clue. I think fundraisers have to start with themselves! How generous we we? And why do we give (or not)? Know thyself (which according to Wikipedia Diogenes attributes to Thales) and you might begin to know Mankind (according to Alexander Pope). More insight and introspection may not make for a happier New Year but it will definitely help your fundraising.