Philanthropy means different things to different people
Whatever your philanthropic aims, we can help you understand the key issues and guide you with a strategy that meets your needs.
Welcome to the first in our series of Barclays Private Bank podcasts. I’m Ashley Whitfield and today I’m talking to Emma Turner, Director of Philanthropy at Barclays about the future of giving. Hi Emma. Just tell us a bit first what you do at Barclays and why future giving is important.
E: Hello Ashley, so my job is to run the philanthropy service, which we set up in 2008/2009, and the idea behind it is it’s a free advisory service for clients who want some help and support in figuring out what their own giving is going to look and feel like to them. And we have events and literature to help them do this.
So, future giving was the third guide that we decided to do, and it came out of increasing conversations with clients about not only their own engagement but their children’s engagement or maybe people in the wider family.
And so, we thought it might be really helpful to them to have a guide to take home so they could read it, they could share it with the children, so that when – it starts and five and goes up to 25 – so when their child or children comes home one day and says I want to do something, or if they decide they want to begin the conversation including the wider family.
A: So, you’ve worked in this field for over 10 years now. A lot of experience. What do you think are the triggers that make people think of philanthropy to start with?
E: We did a piece of research many years ago now, which looked at what were the kind of drivers and I would say that faith still plays a major part in whether someone, you know, makes a decision to give to charity.
If they have a social conscience, they are more likely to and I think if they’ve had a personal event in their life where a charity has become more significant to them, that is also something that will probably make them even more likely to be a natural giver rather than someone that might come to it for different reasons much later in life.
A: Can concerns around the implications of wealth be resolved with philanthropy do you think?
E: I don’t think they can be resolved, but I think if you are… A lot of the clients that I meet, and it’s actually rather wonderful, they will say to me ‘I never expected to have the wealth that I’ve got. I feel incredibly lucky. I feel very blessed. And actually, I would just like to make the world a slightly better place’. And so, it’s using their money to kind of, as you say, make the world a better place.
And I also think, that when it comes to the next generation, often they want to encourage their children to have a social conscience and understand the value of money. So, it doesn’t take away the implications of wealth, but I think it can help the next generation have a better understanding of the world around them, which is very different to the world that their parents grew up in. You know the children have probably never had to worry about the shopping bill, whereas the parents probably struggled to pay it at some point in their life.
A: How should individuals go about educating their children in terms of philanthropy?
E: Well, I say start them young. So, the Future Giving Guide starts at 5 and goes up to 25 but what I think what’s really important is, whatever the age of the child, is to keep in the front of your mind the relevance of their world and what they understand, or don’t understand.
So, the youngest child I ever worked with was 8 so it was a really interesting family. There was a 4-year-old, an 8-year-old and then two older siblings. So, the 4-year-old, I said sponsor an animal in the zoo for a couple of years, that’s about as far as I could get with that one.
The 8-year-old, I said ‘so what interests him?’ And they said the money jar in the kitchen. So, I laughed and said: ‘So why don’t we get him to count the money jar in the kitchen and half of it goes to him and his pocket money account, and the other half he can give to charity, and he has to choose a charity, but he has to bag it all up and take it to the bank?’
So, he begins to understand, you know, the process of money going into bank accounts, and then he has to choose an organisation.
And the two older brothers, we had a slightly different plan for them because they were in their early 20s. And then the family all got together a couple of months later. The mother told me they couldn’t believe what happened. So, the two older brothers were, you know, dad whatever you want to do we’ll do, which dad wasn’t particularly happy about.
And then the 8-year-old, he got up, counted the money, and it was £180, which was a lot for an 8-year-old. So, he got £60 and he had £60 to give the charity. And he read out from this piece of paper that he wanted this money to go to a charity that had been started by… a friend of his at school had died the year before, and their mum had started a charity in memory of her, and he wanted this money to go to this charity, and they’re looking, and they were completely blown away.
And the mum, who’s obviously incredibly proud that the 8-year-old, kind of, stood up to everybody, said of course we’ll do that, and we’ll match it. And then she rang the mother to find out that actually what she really needed was a lot more support in running the charity. So, they funded someone to go and help her do admin work for three years – and all of that because a child counted a money jar.
So, I think if you can be quite imaginative, because children have wonderful imaginations, if you can tap into that imagination and find things that’s relevant to them it is quite extraordinary what can come of it.
A: Wow, that’s a great story. How can they balance their own interests and passions with those of different generations in the same family?
E: And that’s something that we talk about a lot as obviously as generations change, what is important to one generation may be very different to the next. I think it’s important that for the parents who might be starting this conversation, that they know what’s important to them and what are the causes, or the particular charities, that they have supported and want to continue supporting. But to be open minded enough that the next generation may have a very different view of the world.
So, for example, it might be, mum and dad have done Cancer Research, maybe they’ve done a local project helping disadvantaged kids. Whereas the next generation might be about the environment, which I imagine might be a very popular one. The homeless is coming up more and more with the next generation. So, I think it’s important that you listen to what’s important to them and then you find a way to include it all in the kind of family giving conversation.
A: How can philanthropists measure the results of their giving? Is there a scale or…?
E: That’s something which we tackle, which we talk about, in the Guide to Hiving, you know what is successful giving? And I think what’s really important is what is successful for one person might be very different for another person, so you need to work out your own success if you like, in inverted commas. And really, I think it’s about what you want from the relationship with the charity.
So, for some people it might be sending a cheque, getting a thank-you letter, feeling confident that the money is being well spent, so if you like they’re alightly more of a hands-off giver, whereas you might go the other end of the scale and have someone who gets quite involved in the charity, who wants to visit them, wants to meet staff, wants to meet clients if it’s applicable. Really roll their sleeves up and get under the skin of the organisation.
Further on they might become more involved by going on a board or maybe even possibly one day becoming a trustee. But I think you need to think about yourself – how much time you’ve got to give to it and what kind of relationship you want to have with the organisation and that will then base, kind of, how it takes off from there.
A: So, in terms of being a philanthropist, can you do as little or as much and still be classed as, you know, making a difference, and doing something?
E: So, I think if you look at the dictionary definition of philanthropist you could just say it’s spreading love. I mean in all sorts of kinds of ways and forms. And it’s much more than money. It can be money and it can be time, and it can be your skill-set being used. I mean philanthropist is a very big word, but it was the best word we could think of to use.
But I think that becoming a Carnegie or a Rockefeller or a Bill Gates is way beyond most people. But I think that if you dedicated a part of your wealth and a part of your life, and some of your time to this, that’s a philanthropist. Whether you want to be called a philanthropist or not… is really someone who has engaged in a strategic way of giving is someone who is a philanthropist of some kind.
A: What advice can you offer clients in terms of deciding how many causes to support? Is it better to be a focused philanthropist or to spread your giving more widely around?
E: So, I know what I think and that usually comes up at some point in the conversation.
I think a smaller group that you get more involved with and possibly give more to, ultimately is more satisfactory and fulfilling than having a large group that get a very small amount. But I’ve got a couple of friends of mine who asked me to advise them a few years ago and I told them, I said, if you garden-hose your money across 20 or 30 charities with small denominations it’s an awful lot of work, it’s an awful lot of maintenance on the admin side, and it won’t feel very satisfactory.
But they were very determined to do it and I wasn’t going to argue, because it’s their money after all, so off they went, and they did it, and three years later and they said, oh my god, what’ll we do? We've got too many charities we’re supporting.
I said, well, ok, I’m not going to say I told you so, but I told you so! And we extricated them very kindly and politely out of a lot of the charity relationships, and then they put the same amount of money into building much more meaningful relationships with a smaller group.
I would say between 3 and 5 as a kind of ideal portfolio to begin with – and then of course if you want to do more no one’s going stop you, but I think it’s always important to kind of put your toe in the water and see how it feels and what feels right and meaningful and fulfilling, well that’s the right kind of number.
A: So, if you’re a complete novice and you want to start somewhere but you’re not entirely sure where to start, what advice would you give someone who’s looking to choose a charity?
E: So, I call this my smart giving recipe. And it contains 5 ingredients, which I think if you manage to answer all of these when you are looking for charities to choose one or two, you are going to start off on a really good foot.
So, the first one is the appeal. So we know that charities use emotion to appeal to potential donors, which is fantastic – it’s what gets your attention, gets your heart beating faster, makes you think ‘if I do this I’m going to make the world a better place’, but actually I would advise people to take a step back and put on a slightly cooler head and just be quite rational about ‘are they who they say they are, are they doing what they say they are doing?’ So that’s the first one, the appeal.
The second one is the charity itself. Go to their website. It’s like your first virtual meeting with them, and you should be able to tell quite a lot from their website – more about who they are and what they’re doing and where they’re doing it, who their board of trustees are, who their key staff are.
You should be able to find that you can contact them easily. You would want to see their annual report on there, and their accounts, and if you can’t find something on there that you feel is important, then you should call them up and have a chat, because it’s always very telling as to how they respond to a potential donor on the telephone. So that’s number two.
Number three would be their work. So, you really want to align your passions and frustrations with the work of the charity because you want them to be fixing the problem that you’re passionate and frustrated about. So, you really want to make sure that they have a good track record, that it appears from what you can see that they’re a successful organisation, that they’re robust, and that you really feel that their work is something that you want to align yourself and your money to.
The fourth one would be finances. So, no matter how small they are, they should be financially sound. There’s 136,000 charities in the UK, so this is a big pool to look at. Most of which are remarkably small. Even so, you would want to make sure that they’ve got a good variety of sources of funding, that their fundraising is successful, and they’ve got six months of running costs in the bank, so that if some of that funding slows down, they can still carry on doing their work and hiring their staff.
And then the last one is the impact, which is becoming an increasingly important factor in giving to charities these days. You know, are they really making an impact on the problem that they say they are tackling. So, you would want to see research, data, stories – just something that makes you really believe that they are moving the needle on the problem and an organisation that is, and an organisation that you would want to support.
A: Anything you’d like to add before we end our podcast session?
E: I was talking to a very considered philanthropist a couple of years ago. He actually was being interviewed by me, and he was very clear. He’s in his early 40s and he’s doing an extraordinary thing, but he was very clear: don’t wait. You know, do it now.
Those problems are not going away, they are only going to get worse, and if you’re thinking about doing something in the future, start by doing something really small today. If that’s all you can afford to do, or all you have the time to do, but he was literally imploring people, please don’t wait, please just stop for a second and think ‘what can I do today that might make a difference?’.
A: I think that’s a lovely way to end: do something small and do it today.
Emma Turner, Director of Philanthropy Services at Barclays, thanks so much for talking to us.
Whatever your philanthropic aims, we can help you understand the key issues and guide you with a strategy that meets your needs.