My journey in giving started in 1998, when a friend asked me to help with raising money for a drug and alcohol support project in London. Easy, I thought. A walk in the park. I’ll just contact friends – and friends of friends – and we’ll have the money raised within a year or two. That misconception was squashed very quickly.
Fundraising is hard. Incredibly rewarding, but hard. It took three and a half years to get that particular project up and running and I spent a decade there altogether. I learned many things during that first decade in the charity sector. Then I moved to the private sector and worked at an American investment bank running their charitable services.
There were many more lessons learned but there was one moment that really stuck with me. A senior managing director – the sort of person who could put together an M&A deal in a matter of hours – came to see me as he was completely perplexed about how to start some charitable giving. He wanted to find a cause to help but didn’t know how to begin.
Appetite for advice
I found this extraordinary, but also understandable. There wasn’t much in the way of consistent, reliable and unbiased advice available for someone looking to donate at his level. And as I started to talk to more senior business people, this appetite for advice was something they all shared.
My role, then, is to help our clients and their family take the first steps on their giving journey. Clients want to know what they need to know before they start. Some have even started and got stuck, so I can help them reset the compass.
From FTSE 100 chief executive officers to tech entrepreneurs to successful families, the people I advise are a broad church with one thing in common: they want to use their wealth and skills for the greater good.