Encourage philanthropists – don’t alienate them
By Lord Popat,
Last week’s annual Asian Voice Charity Awards was a timely reminder of the important role that philanthropists play in society.
We live in a world where unfortunately the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. With such disparities increasing, it is easy to criticise the rich for not pulling their weight. But the fact is our society needs and relies on philanthropists, so we should do everything we can to encourage them to continue to donate more rather than alienate them.
We already have a number of well-established philanthropist families in Britain such as the Rothschilds, Westons, Wolfsons and Sainsburys who continue to support hundreds of charitable and cultural causes. Another example earlier this year was the hedge fund physicist David Harding who pledged £100 million to fund postgraduates and disadvantaged students at Cambridge University.
However we need more philanthropists. According to research from the Beacon Collaborative – a charity that promotes philanthropy – only one in ten of the richest high net worth individuals in Britain gives to charity. Their research suggested that the average donation made by those worth more than £10 million is £240 a year; that’s less than a designer handbag or luxury holiday.
A report by the Cultural Cities Enquiry claimed that civic philanthropy has dropped by 11 per cent in the past four years. This is in contrast to the fact that the billionaire count on the Sunday Times Rich List rose by 11 to 425 last year.
As a supporter of various charities and charitable causes, I regularly speak to many high net individuals about what holds them back in donating. The majority say that they worry charities are badly run or they fear their money will not achieve or reach those it was intended for.
These Awards powered by Charity Clarity address this very point. They have revolutionised the way charities are governed, making them more transparent and accountable. Charity Clarity has improved governance guidelines to make charities more accessible and in turn more appealing to potential philanthropists.
On the other hand many philanthropists are worried about being condemned for supporting various charities. Examples include BP who were attacked after sponsoring exhibitions at the British Museum or the recent Gillette campaign about positive masculinity. Meanwhile no one picks on the companies or individuals that don’t donate.
We all have a shared goal – to support our good, hardworking and effective charities. If we continue to alienate donors, we are in danger of endangering our charitable sector. We need to remember that philanthropists are out there. However, we need to do more to better embrace them and to channel their support to a variety of worthy causes.
The Cadbury’s Family left a lasting legacy of social housing that outlived their wealth. Similarly, Bill Gates will be remembered more for helping to eradicate polio than for Microsoft. Such philanthropists will always be remembered for the role they played in bettering our society. Let’s welcome their efforts in making our world better instead of alienating them.
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