Magazine article The Spectator

How to Give

Magazine article The Spectator

How to Give

Article excerpt

Ask any management guru, apostle, or Greek philosopher.

The world's main religions all agree that giving your time and money is the surest route to personal fulfilment. You can diet, exercise and read all the self-help manuals in the world. But the happiest bunnies on the planet are givers, not getters.

'Give while you live' is the new mantra in modern philanthropy; there are, after all, no shops in the cemetery and much greater realisation of the adage: 'The man who dies rich, dies disgraced.' What motivates people to give? One is personal fulfilment. You might wish to prepare your children to understand the value of money and want to give them a sense of what money can actually do. Religious beliefs and traditions such as tithing are a big driver in giving. Frustration with the world and a passion for change is a major factor.

Philanthropy also gives a purpose to a life of getting and spending. As the philanthropy expert and founder of the Whizz-Kidz charity, Mike Dickson, says in his book, The More You Give, The More You Get, making the crucial leap 'from success to significance' is all to do with being a giver.

Britain is changing fast and so is philanthropy.

Fifteen years ago 75 per cent of the individuals on the Sunday Times Rich List had inherited their wealth while 25 per cent were self-made.

Today, that ratio has been reversed. The new rich are less embarrassed by discussing their philanthropy and, unlike previous generations, more reluctant to pass on their wealth for fear of wrecking their children's lives. The trend is now to seek advice and to approach their giving in a very businesslike way.

Mark Evans, head of the Family Business and Philanthropy Department at Coutts & Co. , puts it this way: 'There is only so much fun you can get from writing out a cheque.

Engagement is crucial. When and where you really start to get a sense of fun is different for different people. It might be in doing the research. Or it might be getting to meet the people in the project. For a lot of our clients it is all about building a relationship -- possibly over several years. For the charity the longer relationship is of course ideal.' Dr Salvatore LaSpada, chief executive of the Institute for Philanthropy (www.instituteforphilanthropy. org. uk), dedicated to raising the profile of charitable giving, says: 'There's a wonderful new impatience and hunger among donors to see the impact on the ground. Many people find in their philanthropy the same adrenaline rush they got in building their business.' For the wealthy, what you donate to is increasingly an expression of who you are.

Entrepreneurs selling a business and looking at giving away their excess wealth certainly want to see their money deployed to maximum effect. The secret of effective and enjoyable giving -- at whatever financial level -- is to get involved with the cause you have chosen.

Often this involves visiting a charity and its staff, usually a quicker process than wading through a report and a lot more enjoyable.

You don't have to be rich or the world's next Gandhi to be a philanthropist. All you need is a desire to make a difference.


There are 200, 000 charities in the UK and that's a lot to sift through. Homelessness, human rights abuse, climate change, child poverty, the arts or endangered species? Some donors know they want to give generously but don't have a clue who to. Many adopt the causes of their friends. But how do you know how effectively your money is being used? How do you know that its services are making any difference?

Help is available. New Philanthropy Capital (NPC) (www. newphilanthropy. org) is a leading organisation which does the work for you, providing expert and exhaustive research into charities and their aims and effectiveness. As well as highlighting the areas of greatest need, NPC identifies charities that could use donations to best effect and has an A-Z of charities which it has analysed and recommends. …

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