The goals of giv­ing are chang­ing

As tra­di­tional char­i­ta­ble do­na­tions de­cline, a new breed of phi­lan­thropist is emerg­ing, writes Colin Card­well

The Herald Business - - Philanthropy -

BECKS scored again at the be­gin­ning of this month. The head­lines and hoopla were not about his sport­ing ca­reer at new club Paris Sain­tGer­main but more pre­dictably about the money – and the fact t ha t David Beck­ham had an­nounced, in his en­gag­ingly dif­fi­dent way, that he in­tended to do­nate his en­tire salary for the du­ra­tion of the con­tract, £150,000 a week, to a lo­cal chil­dren’s char­ity.

In­evitably, the cyn­ics im­me­di­ately waded in to claim that the ex­er­cise was noth­ing more than a pub­lic­ity stunt and a clever tax move by some­one who is, in any case, worth an es­ti­mated £200 mil­lion.

What­ever the ar­gu­ments, the money will go to a worth­while cause and the ges­ture threw a spot­light on char­ity do­na­tions in gen­eral at a time when there is ma­jor con­cern in the sec­tor that peo­ple liv­ing in a regime of aus­ter­ity will be less in­clined to part with what lit­tle money they have.

Their worry is jus­ti­fied: Simon Bain re­ported in The Her­ald in De­cem­ber that the amount given to char­i­ties by peo­ple across the UK fell from £11 bil­lion to £9.3bn last year, the big­gest drop in the UK Giv­ing sur­vey’s eight-year his­tory.

En­cour­ag­ingly, mu­tual so­ci­ety Foresters said that Scots are buck­ing that trend, with av­er­age do­na­tions higher than the na­tional av­er­age and set to rise, with an es­ti­mated £95 each to be given in 2013 – £17 more than in the UK as a whole.

A large pro­por­tion of giv­ing comes from a rel­a­tively small sec­tion of so­ci­ety. In Scot­land, an in­creas­ing num­ber of high net worth in­di­vid­u­als and suc­cess­ful busi­ness peo­ple, most of them not court­ing the head­lines, are cre­at­ing an en­tre­pre­neur­ial model of phi­lan­thropy that many be­lieve has truly ex­cit­ing pos­si­bil­i­ties.

One is An­gus Macdon­ald, who f ounded s us­tain­able waste man­age­ment com­pany SWR in 2007 and is per­haps bet­ter known in Scot­land as co-founder, with his wife Michie, of the Moidart Trust, which aims t oo sup­port com­mu­nity de­vel-op­ment and so­cial en­ter-prise in the north-westt un­der the um­brella of thee West Coast Com­mu­ni­tiess Growth Trust Fund. It has helped small com­pa­nies such as the Isle of Skye Bak­ing Com­pany and Wild West Foods, whose in­trigu­ing busi­ness plan was to bring beef jerky from Uruguay to the outer He­brides – and which now stocks shops across the UK and Europe.

Macdon­ald has been a long­stand­ing mem­ber of the Scot­tish Com­mu­nity Foun­da­tion, re­cently re­branded as Foun­da­tion Scot­land, an or­gan­i­sa­tion that pro­vides ad­min­is­tra­tion and man­age­mentnt sup­port ser­vices for indi-ivid­u­als and or­gan­isa-ations who want to givee some of their wealth too promis­ing busi­nesses that might strug­gle to find con­ven­tional fund­ing and dis­trib­utes £3.5m a year on be­half of its donors.

Chief ex­ec­u­tive Giles Ruck is en­thu­si­as­tic about the role of Macdon­ald and other en­trepreneurs in kick-start­ing busi­nesses that bring real eco­nomic and so­cial ben­e­fits. The mantra, he says, is that giv­ing means not just money but time. “Ten years ago the Times Rich List was three quar­ters in­her­ited wealth and one quar­ter en­tre­pre­neur­ial and self-made money. Since 2007 the pro­por­tions have re­versed and that is now coming through in the in­creas­ing pro­por­tion of high net worth phi­lan­thropy that we are see­ing.”

An­other devel­op­ment is the net­work­ing that now brings th­ese peo­ple to­gether. “In­creas­ingly we have recog­nised that donors want to meet one an­other: they are very good at net­work­ing as busi­ness lead­ers but not from the per­spec­tive of en­gag­ing in phi­lan­thropy, which is a new jour­ney for them.”

And there may even be some re­demp­tion for the much pil­lo­ried bank­ing sec­tor: “We are see­ing an in­ter­est from highly re­mu­ner­ated em­ploy­ees of firms, mainly in fi­nance and in the younger age bracket, who are paid well and want to do some­thing pos­i­tive with this.

“We set up the Foun­da­tion Scot­land Trust which lets peo­ple do some­thing en­ter­pris­ing and in­ter­est­ing with­out be­ing con­cerned with all the reg­u­la­tory is­sues and paying huge fees to pro­fes­sional ad­vis­ers. We’ve seen nearly 20 funds be­ing set up, even in this eco­nomic cli­mate, and we haven’t par­tic­u­larly pushed it.”

Most peo­ple, he be­lieves have a phil­an­thropic trait or gene. “If peo­ple are mak­ing large amounts of money, they have prob­a­bly bought the car and the house –but that isn’t to­tally re­ward­ing and they want to give some­thing back.”

His op­ti­mism is shared by Mick Jack­son, the ex­u­ber­antly pos­i­tive founder of Wild­hearts in Ac­tion, a multi-mil­lion pound of­fice sup­ply com­pany that do­nates all its prof­its to char­ity. Jack­son’s ethos is sim­ple: rather than give do­na­tions to the needy the com­pany ar­ranges mi­cro loans, on av­er­age £150, to help peo­ple set up their own busi­ness. And it is an en­ter­prise firmly un­der­pinned by en­tre­pre­neur­ial prin­ci­ples.

“The lat­est re­search in pos­i­tive psychology shows that the peo­ple who per­form best in com­pa­nies tend to be the most mag­nan­i­mous in na­ture,” says Jack­son. “Cap­i­tal­ism has been so ef­fec­tive for so long be­cause of the cre­ativ­ity and in­di­vid­u­al­ity that it re­leases – but it only ad­dresses the self­ish as­pect of build­ing a ca­reer. The self­less side of the per­son is equally im­por­tant and if you ne­glect that it leads to all sort of emo­tional and so­ci­etal prob­lems – a lot of peo­ple ex­pe­ri­ence a sense of malaise, a feel­ing that things aren’t right.”

Jack­son be­lieves that the tra­di­tional con­cept of phi­lan­thropy as do­nat­ing money is be­com­ing rapidly out­moded.

Mick Jack­son of Wild­Hearts be­lieves im­bu­ing his Mi­cro Ty­cos with en­tre­pre­neur­ial skills is cru­cial in help­ing those in poverty build their own busi­nesses

David Beck­ham’s re­cent de­ci­sion to do­nate his Paris Saint-Ger­main salary to char­ity pre­dictably made news - but there are a raft of in­no­va­tive new means of phi­lan­thropy

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