Promoting Philanthropy in Ireland

I saw yesterday that the Ireland Funds have opened their Grants rounds. One of the categories that they will accept requests under is “Promoting Philanthropy in Ireland”. A few years ago, working with Niall O’Sullivan, we got a group of fundraisers in Ireland to attend a meeting that  talked about promoting Philanthropy. We pulled together a “thoughts” document and shared it with the Board of Philanthropy Ireland. I believe that there is more movement in this space again, which is great to hear.

But there was one line of thinking from that day that I have been keen to progress. My belief is that one of the ways (and not the only one)  of creating a culture of Philanthropy in Ireland is to think long term and about the next generation. I had heard about a campaign in the US that encouraged children to not just save their pocket money but to also spend some of it and share (donate) another portion.

I don’t know who runs it, or even if it is run by anyone, but I want to adapt it and bring it to life in Ireland.

I sincerely believe that a “Spend, Save, Share” movement, targeted at children in junior school (with a plan to grow with them as they develop) would be a massive step in promoting philanthropy in Ireland. Imagine, if, from a young age children think about money differently. They think about saving (that’s good right) but they also know that its ok to spend some too. Just as importantly though, they start to think about what some of that money could do for others? So they would start to think about sharing. I firmly believe that this would be the start of a mindset change, which would need to be supported by a full programme that, as I said, develops as the child develops, which could be incredibly powerful and game changing for the future of philanthropy.

This isn’t about the amount, so fundraisers should put the calculators away. This is about the action. It’s about creating a movement that changes how we think about philanthropy. It’s a step towards the idea of planned giving. Ireland is a generous nation, we all know that. But we aren’t a nation that really plans or thinks about its giving. I believe that a programme like this would create a culture where we start to think in a planned way.

So why am I telling you this?

Well I want charities to get on board with me. I would love to take this on, but I need charities to buy into it. Maybe organisations like Fundraising Ireland, Philanthropy Ireland, ICTRG, The Wheel could row in behind it too? Maybe even some financial institutions too!

We could apply to the Ireland Funds for seed funding and then look at where else we could get support. This is clearly in the ideas stage. But there is an idea here.

If you think it’s a good one and think your organisation would like to get behind something like this, let me know, drop me an email, tweet me, call me, whatever, just get in touch. We will then set something up with everyone who thinks it’s a good idea and do something about it.

I believe in this and would love to bring it to life. But I need you.


Growing Philanthropy

Unfortunately this isn’t a post about the governments plans to grow philanthropy in Ireland, but its not. However it is a report that should be read by anyone who is interested in growing philanthropy.

This report is from Indiana University, with Blackbaud. There is the full report here and the executive summary here. So ditch the morning papers, get the coffee on and get reading!

In case you are wondering is it worth it….here is a summary of the findings…now go read!

The need for greater education of boards and other nonprofit practitioners was highlighted many times in this paper. If philanthropy is to be increased, board members must be willing to take the actions necessary not only to steward their own long-term income, but also to steward the philanthropy of the sector .
 Similarly, a number of barriers to giving were highlighted, caused by public misconceptions of the sector and the manner in which it, and fundraising in particular, now operate . The need to educate fundraisers was also clear . Improving the supply side of philanthropy was felt to be critical in enhancing the quality of the donor experience .
The sector also needs a substantive investment in fundraising infrastructure, including the provision of a new and dedicated body whose role would be to focus on compiling the evidence base necessary to grow philanthropy . A research center collating relevant research from a wide range of different
scientific disciplines, and conducting and commissioning its own research was felt to be a necessity . It is astonishing how little effort has currently been applied to helping fundraisers to do a better job of creating an environment conducive to philanthropy.
Finally, we end where we began by highlighting the need for nonprofits to reconceptualize the nature of the supporter relationship . Instead of viewing donors as a source of revenue and maximizing the value of that relationship, they need instead to focus more on the individual and the articulation of that person’s philanthropy . Only when we stop asking for money and instead ask individuals to reflect on their own philanthropic identity will the needle truly be moved on giving


Early Interventions: An Economic Approach to Charitable Giving

I read the recent Barclays Wealth report with interest. In it the report suggests that philantrhopists should take an alternative view to their giving strategy and start to look at some of the less traditional routes and instead look at more innovative routes to solving issues.

I found this interesting in isolation but then a conversation I had with someone last week about corporate charity giving suggested to me that this approach could move beyond this report into other areas of philanthropy. The conversation I had revolved around a companies charitable activity. It was suggested that companies could be or are already fed up with the traditional routes of supporting causes and in many ways they are just going through the motions. But if they were to stop and think about it they would really like to be making an impact, a real impact (yes Im back to talking impact!). The person I spoke to suggested things that are similar to this report (although on a different scale).

So with that in mind, it is well worth looking at this summary of the report and if you have time to look at the full report (here) do. I think this could really start to penetrate into broader thinking on charitable giving over the coming months and years…so how can you be a leader in this thinking?


New report highlights £100bn impact of major social issues and emphasises importance of early intervention

  • New report analyses three of society’s most difficult issues with costs approaching £100bn each year
  • Research shows early interventions can help improve economic well-being of society
  • Private funders are well placed to invest in innovative approaches to help tackle social problems
  • Early-stage preventative approaches can cost a fifth of current social support

A groundbreaking new report, published on Monday, September 19th 2011 by Barclays Wealth, highlights some of the most expensive social issues in the UK – with the combined costs identified in the report approaching £100bn each year. Taking a ‘return-on-investment’ approach to philanthropy and applying economic analysis to UK charitable giving, the report explores how private funders are well placed to help tackle the root causes of these issues. Such efforts can bring significant savings to public finance, as well as improving the lives of individuals and their economic prospects.

The report, entitled Early Interventions: An Economic Approach to Charitable Giving, was developed in association with charity think tank and consultancy New Philanthropy Capital (NPC). Using a prioritisation process to review 30 of the costliest social issues in the UK, researchers further analysed three issues in detail to understand causes and links, before looking at interventions. These three issues and their associated impact on the public purse are:

  • Children with conduct problems (£51bn)1
  • Adults out of work due to mental health problems (£45bn)
  • Chaotic families (£12bn)

Commenting on the research, Emma Turner, Director of Client Philanthropy at Barclays Wealth said: “It is clear that these three issues are proving a significant burden to the welfare state, from an economic as well as a social point of view. However, these issues don’t necessarily elicit the most generous response from private funders. The more light that is shone on these types of social issues and the impact of interventions – such as those highlighted in this research – the more chance there is of private funding being made available to help.”

Early intervention

The report argues that early intervention is vital in tackling those issues which can contribute to entrenched social problems at a later stage. Furthermore, funding early-stage, preventative approaches can bring about significant economic savings for the state.

The report identifies that there are currently 1.3 million young people in the UK with serious behavioural issues. According to one case study, the cost to society of dealing with just one individual with these problems could exceed £148,000 by the time they reach the age of 16. However, over the same time period, supporting an individual, via intensive family support, counselling in schools and Multisystemic Therapy2, could cost £32,000 – equating to nearly a fifth of the cost of current crisis services.

Iona Joy, Head of Charity Effectiveness at New Philanthropy Capital said: “A charity that helps to divert a young person from crime and into a job not only improves the lives of potential victims, members of the community, and indeed the young person in question, it can also reduce the costs of policing, courts and custody. It further helps the young person to earn a wage, pay tax and contribute to the economy. Many charities aim to improve people’s lives regardless of economic benefits, however taking an economic approach to allocating charitable funding helps us to understand the value of tackling some of the toughest social problems faced in the UK.”

Another costly issue examined in the report is adults facing employment challenges due to mental health problems. Mental health problems affect one in six adults at any one time, with costs of £45bn per year due to related unemployment and reduced productivity.

At present, there are 1.3 million people with mental health problems who rely on benefits, yet many of this group would like to return to employment. The report argues that early workplace intervention by employers could reduce this number greatly. Specialist employment support for those out of work with mental health issues, as well as supporting employers to make workplaces more conducive to good mental health, have been shown to deliver savings of up to £2.50 for every £1 invested.

A further key issue analysed in the report is chaotic families. The report estimates that 140,000 families cost society £12bn each year through reliance on public sector services and wider social costs. This figure could be greatly reduced by employing proven methods of intervention, for example, targeted support for families has an estimated cost of £19,500 for each family per year – an average saving of £40,000 annually per family. Moreover, these savings are dramatically increased in the case of the most problematic families, with savings reaching over £130,000 per year in some cases.

A compelling case for private funders

Whilst the report shows that funders can vary greatly in their style of charitable giving – in terms of time, involvement and funds at their disposal – they are now in an increasingly advantageous position to ensure the funds they invest in a philanthropic cause can make a difference. However, there are also many considerations private funders must think about when making decisions about the charitable sectors they want to fund, such as their level of ambition, their willingness to engage with other partners and their attitudes to risk.

In order to help funders decide how they are best suited to approach issues and interventions and what level of risk – or return – they are looking to take, the report outlines a framework to help donors make these decisions, based on their own ambitions and risk appetite. In addition, the report refers to distinct funder profiles, which range from the time-poor “Gift Givers” to the “Change Makers” – committed philanthropists willing to take risks on new initiatives.

Emma Turner commented: “Private funders have an unrivalled capacity to fund initiatives that the government cannot. It is now clear that there is a growing group of enlightened funders, defined as Change Makers, who understand that the current method of responding to social problems only once they reach crisis point has limited success. This group of funders is willing to take risks on new philanthropic initiatives that address the root cause of problems, rather than just the visible symptoms.

“In bringing these difficult issues, which are often neglected, to the attention of funders – we need to provide powerful reasons for why they should invest in these interventions and what they can achieve by doing so.” Emma Turner continued, “If we want to tackle some of society’s biggest problems, and persuade funders to choose routes such as early intervention funding, we have to find new and better ways of making the argument more compelling.”

1 £51bn relates to the cost of crime committed by adults who are estimated to have had conduct disorder in childhood. 80% of crime is committed by adults who had conduct problems as children, equating to around £51bn a year.
2 Multisystemic Therapy involves intensive whole-family support by a dedicated worker who visits several times a week for several months. The worker also liaises with schools and other agencies (youth offending teams, mental health services) to help solve problems in a holistic way.

Source: Barclays Wealth

Anyone can give 2million!

There was an article in the daily mail last tuesday about a couple (Bernadette and Toby Young) who are planning to donate 2 million pounds to charity in their lifetime!

And they arent multi-millionaires

They are doing it by comitting to give 10% of their income to charity, so far this has amounted to 50,000 pounds and they believe as they become more successful this will total 2 million in their lifetime. They have made sacrifices, it has meant they havent gone on dream holidays, they havent been able to save the deposit for a house.

It is a pretty incredible story and as we try to really build and create a culture of philanthropy (that isnt just focussed on the ultra wealthy) I think that this couple should be appointed Ambassadors for Philanthropy

We clearly can’t expect everyone to follow in the footsteps of the Young’s, but even if their story got people thinking about planned giving, and even giving away 1-2% of their income to charity, wouldnt it be a great thing?

Read the full article here and Thanks to Phil from Aidlink who sent me this article.

Its ok to have different objectives



Companies and charities should have different objectives when they work together…this is ok. I recently heard about a company who said their objective for working with charity X was to raise a certain amount of money.

This, in my mind, should be the objective of the Fundraising Director of the charity, not of the corporate partner. Surely their objective is to sell more product. I know one of the most successful partnerships I worked on grew because our corporate partner sold more of their product around the time of the partnership. And we raised more money.

The company of course benefitted from a halo effect working with us, but ultimately their revenues increased.

I would love to start seeing companies being open to the fact that its ok to engage in a partnership with a charity to generate revenue and sell more products. I think if this reluctance was removed we could start to see charitable partnerships sit firmly within marketing departments and actually become even more effective. If you look at an organisations objectives behind a major sponsorship it isnt simply to do the right thing. They are very clear about why they engage in the partnership and what they want to get out of it and one of the main points will be…to shift more of their products.

If there was a change in this direction I believe we would start to see even more successful charitable partnerships, even greater alignment between companies and charities and longer term more sustainable partnerships.

This then may leave the door open for even purer philanthropy, with companies are giving a % of their profits to causes….then there will be some great sponsorship partnerships and philanthropy, not one dressed up as the other. The first couple of pages of this paper by Network For Good offers some great tips on this topic…download it here

What do you think? Am I off the mark here?

Want to Help Developing Countries? Sell Them Good Stuff

A friend of mine David Wolman wrote this really interesting piece in Wired (he has also written a book on left-handedness…i kid you not!)

Source: Wired Sept 27th 2010

The Tata Group, India’s version of Acme and maker of the supercheap Nano automobile, recently introduced a $22 water purifier that works without electricity or running water. (Every few months it needs a new $6 filter.) A big-hearted, philanthropic, and important effort? You bet—cue the somber stats about preventable waterborne diseases. But check out the size of the market for a product like that: Some 900 million people worldwide lack access to clean water, 200 million of them in India alone. Tata is saving lives and making a killing.

That’s why, at next year’s G-whatever meeting in France, world leaders would do well to rip up those big checks to tin-pot autocrats and channel the cash to startup companies instead. Help those companies make cheap, useful products to sell to the world’s poor, who will use them to become less poor, and everybody wins. Management guru C. K. Prahalad advocated this very idea six years ago in The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty Through Profits, and now a few companies like Tata are putting it into action.

D.Light Design is a case in point. After witnessing the inefficiencies and harmful health effects of kerosene lamps as a Peace Corps volunteer in Benin, Sam Goldman returned to the US to earn an MBA and pursue a very specific agenda: Replace kerosene lighting, everywhere, with inexpensive solar-powered LED lamps. Three years ago, he launched D.light to produce such lamps and has already sold 250,000* to customers throughout the developing world at an average price of $20 apiece. The company hopes to light the homes of 50 million people by 2015.

Another example: Forty percent of humanity gets by on less than $2 a day, and most of those people are rural farmers. Efficient drip irrigation systems could triple or quadruple their yields while reducing their costs, but manufacturers haven’t bothered making drip systems for tiny farms. In 2004, a company called Global Easy Water Product began selling a setup that can be used for small plots. The price: $32.50 per quarter acre. In just two years as a for-profit venture, it has sold more than 250,000 units in India.

“Conventional development economics was always about increasing per capita income to a certain level before people become consumers,” says Vijay Govindarajan, a professor at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business. The new view flips that logic on its head: Providing access to modern technologies by creating supercheap products may, in fact, be the best way to improve economic well-being. For entrepreneurs, the race is on to tap that massive population of penny-wielding consumers-in-waiting. Put another way, if Coke and Marlboro can sell to the world’s poor, companies whose products are actually useful should be able to do it, too.

But selling to subsistence farmers takes some reshuffled thinking. To simplify a bit, companies in traditional markets design a product, figure out what it costs to make, and then select a profit-maximizing price. That approach assumes, of course, that your market exists in the first place. When doing business in Burundi, you’re trying to conjure buyers out of thin air. To do that, you start by committing to a price as close as possible to nothing. The task, then, is to design a product that costs even less to make. Only with what Govindarajan calls “frugal engineering” can companies gain access to the masses at the bottom of the pyramid.

Of course, that’s easier said than done, especially for big firms that are already hardwired for other priorities (Tata is the exception here). But nimble startups can have a real advantage in this new environment because they aren’t trying to satisfy the tastes of existing first-world customers.

The trick is balancing affordability and quality. In a Harvard Business Review article last year, Govindarajan, together with Tuck colleague Chris Trimble and General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt, wrote that people in emerging markets “are more than happy with high-tech solutions that deliver decent performance at an ultralow cost—a 50 percent solution at a 15 percent price.” That’s not a green light for lame products, though. As in any market, what’s being sold has to fill an unmet need. The poor may be poor, but they’re not stupid.


Philanthropist of the Year Nominations

I got an email from Gibney Communications about the Philanthropist of the Year awards. I think the awards havent as many nominations as they would like, which is a shame, so if you are a non profit I would encourage you to nominate:

The Community Foundation for Ireland today issued a final call to clubs and organisations throughout the country to get nominations in for the 2008 Philanthropist of the Year Awards. With entries closing on Monday, 6th October local groups can still see their benefactors honoured alongside last years winners J.P. McManus and Niall Mellon. A special “Local Heroes” category has been added this year.

The annual awards recognise the vision and generosity of Irish philanthropists who make a huge impact on communities and voluntary organisations in their local communities and abroad.

Nominations can be made easily online and nomination forms are available at  The Community Foundation for Ireland is urging community and voluntary organisations, charities, welfare groups, arts and sports bodies, churches and foundations that work in partnership with philanthropists to submit their nominations. These groups have intimate knowledge of the value and impact of the contribution and benefit that a donor has made.

Last year’s winners were J.P. McManus, who was named Philanthropist of the Year – Ireland and Niall Mellon who was awarded Philanthropist of the Year – International.  “We had two very deserving winners last year. They demonstrated the vision, passion and generosity that true philanthropy is about,” said Community Foundation for Ireland Chief Executive Tina Roche.

This year’s new category Philanthropist of the Year – Local specifically focuses on individuals whose philanthropy is focused on local or regional projects that have made a significant impact in their communities. 

Tina Roche added, “We are really excited about the new local category added to the awards.  We want to highlight and celebrate individuals that have decided to make a real difference in their local communities. It is not always easy for us to find out about the great work that is being done at a local level and that is why we are calling on all members of the local community to help us nominate worthy individuals for this award”.