How Much Can She Give? Some maths, from Spain

Prospect research in continental Europe is tough. You spend your life saying ‘if only we had [fill in name of favourite source]’.

There are rays of light, as Europe gradually opens up to transparency, but they are rarely truly illuminating.

The hardest part is to try to estimate Gift Capacity. At Factary we define Gift Capacity as ‘the largest gift that an individual could give to any cause in ideal circumstances, over three years.’ By defining it that way we are saying, as objectively as one can in the murky world of money, that this is the best of the best, the biggest possible gift. Not ‘how much she will give to my charity‘, but how much she can give. And not ‘how much can she give this year?‘, but an amount spread over a period of three years.

How much she actually donates to your cause depends on many factors, including the strength of the connection to her, her positive and negative feelings about your organisation and, of course, how much you ask for.

But here in Catalonia and Spain, even the starting point for Gift Capacity research is difficult. So it is a Red Letter Day when some data on wealth appears.

The annual publication on directors’ salaries by the Stock Exchange Control Committee (CNMV, www.cnmv.es) is just such a day. The 2015 report was published last week.

In part the interest is vicarious. Learning that the Executive Chairs of Ibex-35 companies are now earning an average of €3.45 million is galling when you are a prospect researcher in Spain (average salary unknown but unlikely to be more than €25,000, and mostly under €20k); those Chairs earn more in three days than you earn in a year of labour.

But the data – the full report is here – does help us. Non-Exec directors are now earning an average of €763,000, up a staggering 48% on the previous year (clearly these are hard-working men and women), and the average across all quoted company directors is €344,000, up a mere 8.2% on the previous year.

So now you have an idea of how much she is earning, can you reliably calculate gift capacity?

Unfortunately, there is very little data to help you do that.

A 2006 study of tax returns [1] showed that people earning more than €600,000 per annum were giving an average of €3,268 – meaning 0.54% of their income. This was their declared giving on their declared income, and both figures are likely to be conservative.

So at your most cautious you could say that the Executive Chair of an Ibex-35 company might give 0.54% of €3.45 million, which would be €18,760.

That’s a start!

1. Sánchez Pérez, Elisa. ‘Evolución y situación actual de la filantropía en España’. In La Filantropía: Tendencias y Perspectivas, 125–46. Papeles de la Fundación de Estudios Financieros 26. Madrid, 2008. http://www.fef.es/new/publicaciones/papeles-de-la-fundacion/item/189-26-la-filantrop%C3%ADa-tendencias-y-perspectivas.html.

Factary and Europe

Dear customers, friends, colleagues

A brief note to reassure you that Factary will continue to provide services – consulting, prospect research and training – across Europe despite this morning’s referendum vote.

We will be following the negotiations closely and will continue to act, as always, in the best interests of our customers, our colleagues in the non-profit and philanthropy sectors, and of the beneficiaries that you serve.

We will monitor any implications that this vote may have for cross-border philanthropy and fundraising, and we are ready to discuss any concerns that you may have in this area.

Do feel free to contact us to discuss any questions that you may have, at any time.

All the best

Chris Carnie
chris@factary.com
Martine Godefroid
martine@factary.com
Marc Low
marc@factary.com
Nicola Williams
nicolaw@factary.com

A Window on Philanthropy in Italy

Another window on high-value philanthropy just opened in Italy thanks to UNHCR and Gruppo Kairos, a private banking and wealth management firm. In March, UNHCR published the results of a survey carried out with the finance firm. I am grateful to Giovanna Li Perni at UNHCR for a copy of the report, and for her presentation of the results at last week’s Festival del Fundraising.

During October-November 2015 Kairos asked its HNWI clients to complete a questionnaire; 91 of them, 44% women, 56% men, did so. This is not therefore a balanced representative sample of people of wealth in Italy (so we cannot safely extrapolate the results) but does give us at least some insight into how this group of people reacted. The group included a wide range of wealth levels from €1m to more than €30m, and a spread of age groups with, as you would expect, a bias toward middle age and older (85% were aged 46 or over). Almost all of the group were donors – 91% had made at least one donation to a social cause in the previous year (against 26% of the general population). The percentage who gave rose with increasing wealth, reaching 100% of people with wealth over €30m.

When asked about their largest gift during 2015 to any one organisation, most reported €5,000, with 73% of women giving at this level and 49% of men. Older people tended to give more, so 22% of the over-65s gave €25,000 and 11% gave €50,000. Of course these people were giving to a number of organisations, so 30% of this older group gave away a total of between €50,000-€100,000 in 2015.

Asked about the causes to which they made their largest gift in 2015, 21% chose scientific or medical research, 19% favoured children’s causes, and 16% poverty in Italy. Importantly for UNHCR, 10% chose help and protection for refugees as their top cause. 62% gave principally to causes in Italy.

Why did they give?

More than half (52%) said that their main reason for giving was because they felt privileged. 26% said it was giving made them feel useful. Interestingly just 4% of donors said that they gave because of their religious values, with 9% saying that they want to change things, to make a difference and the same percentage saying that they gave to continue a family tradition of philanthropy.

In choosing a non-profit, two major reasons stood out; the cause, and ‘transparency of the organisation and exhaustive documentation on results.’ This focus on transparency is interesting and is part of a trend we can see across Europe toward greater transparency in the non-profit sector. New laws (for example, in Holland) and new organisations (for example Fundación Lealtad in Spain) are encouraging this trend toward transparency.

Italians will tell you that business in the country is based on personal connections, and it seems that this might be true for philanthropy also. It is certainly the case for this group of philanthropists, who say that the most common channel for hearing about the organisations they support is via their personal network (28% of respondents, the largest single group), while 15% say that they chose the cause because they knew the leader of the organisation in person.

What does this tell us about strategy?

The information in this report is gathered from the clients of one bank, so we should be careful about extrapolating from it. But given that there is almost nothing else available on HNWI philanthropy in the Italian market, we might at least test some conclusions.

The research should help push up the pricing of ‘major donor’ programmes. Individuals responding to this survey have made gifts in excess of €100,000 to single organisations, and 20% of them have made gifts of €25,000 or more. We can even venture a Gift Capacity calculation for this group, defining ‘Gift Capacity’ as ‘The largest total gift that one person could give to any one cause, in ideal conditions, over five years’ (see my previous blog on this topic.) Five of the respondents with net worth of €5-€10m made gifts to single organisations of €100,000 or more, between 1% and 2% of their net worth.

The research makes the case for prospect research. It shows that personal networks are the means by which these HNWIs have been reached by their non-profit partners, and that these networks are their primary source of information. Prospect research has the tools to identify personal networks. Sadly, the number of prospect researchers in Italy is still in single figures.

This research was carried out in partnership with Gruppo Kairos, and we have here a strategic clue that a number of NGOs in Europe are starting to follow up. Private wealth managers and bankers are increasingly interested in philanthropy, and we would all do well to focus more attention on this key group of intermediaries.

This is the second year in which UNHCR and Kairos have carried out this study, and the plan is to continue the annual series; another opening window on the world of HNWI philanthropy in Europe.

Five ways to make use of donation data

There has been some interest online over the past few months in how prospect researchers can make the best use of ‘donation data’ – i.e. databases, reports and websites that list donations, showing who gave, how much, and to whom.

Recent blogs such as this one from iWave inspired us to carry out a survey amongst our subscribers to Factary Phi to find out for ourselves how and why they are using donation data. Some of their answers were unexpected – we found out that our subscribers are very imaginative when it comes to making use of data on donations in their research. Below we have outlined some of the ways our subscribers have told us they’re making use of the data.

If you use donation data in your research, we hope the innovative approaches of our subscribers prove inspirational to you!

The five ways our subscribers are using Phi data

  1. To understand philanthropic interests to help identify the best prospects

    Overall (and perhaps the least surprising in many ways) was that a whopping 90% of respondents to our survey mentioned that the two ways they mainly use the donation data in Phi were to:

    1. Research existing prospects, e.g.:
      • “Searching by name and checking which causes [prospects] are giving to, to determine philanthropic interests”
      • “Get a sense of causes these donors or prospects support”
      • “Research other charities supported by existing supporters and prospects”
    2. Find new prospects, e.g.:
      • “Identify people supporting competitor charities/similar causes through searching by [recipients] activity type”
      • “To identify new potential prospects giving to a similar cause”
      • “Check who is giving to similar causes [and] check who is giving to particular causes”

    As we know, using research on donation history to find prospects with an affinity to a particular cause has been long proven as an effective strategy for understanding which of your current prospects might prove to be the most likely to donate – and also for finding new potential likely donors. This is because many donors will have a specific interest in a particular cause and will more readily consider donating to organisations operating in a similar field in the future (Breeze & Lloyd, 2013). This type of approach to the research was said to be useful for researching all types of prospects on Phi, including individuals, trusts and companies.

  2. To help researchers shape fundraising strategy

    Interestingly, prospect researchers using Phi told us that researching donation data can be a way that they can help their organisations to plan fundraising strategy. Subscribers noted that the breadth of data on Phi allowed them, together with additional research, to benchmark types of donors to similar organisations or projects, thereby gaining an understanding of the current fundraising market. So, for example, the research might show if individual major donors would be more or less likely to support a particular type of project or campaign than trusts & foundations. Armed with this knowledge, researchers can then advise senior management on the likely avenues for support, thereby shaping the fundraising strategy around the type of donor most likely to give.

    The ability for researchers to ascertain potential levels of giving was another factor mentioned in helping to shape strategy – by using Phi to research donation levels, researchers are able to estimate the potential eventual Ask for current donors and existing / potential prospects. Knowing a prospect’s previous donation levels to different causes is a useful way to gauge their likely or potential future donation to your cause – and arguably more accurate than basing their estimated gift capacity on wealth data alone. This donation information enables researchers to contribute to discussions around fundraising targets for campaigns and projects, potentially putting them in a central role during decision-making around prospect allocation and fundraising strategy development.

    Also, some researchers stated that the data on Phi also helps them identify local recipient organisations (by searching for donations to a particular region or town) to see if there are common funders or funding networks prevalent in that local area, thereby contributing to an understanding of the potential local prospect pool or philanthropic networks to be cultivated. This approach was said to help both national charities with local offices and also regional organisations (such as hospices).

  3. To encourage stronger relationships between fundraisers and researchers

    We thought this was a particularly nice benefit to researching donation data!

    Some of our respondents reported that fundraisers were more willing to take on prospects that a prospect researcher had identified if they could provide information to the fundraiser on the prospects’ previous donations. When these prospects turned out to be decent (and ultimately donated to the cause), the fundraisers were then more open to working with the researcher’s suggestions in the future, thereby creating a better working relationship.

    Respondents also noted that even where information on specific gift amounts was omitted from the donation search, simply identifying that the prospect is philanthropic was sometimes enough to encourage fundraisers to act on their suggestions.

  4. To understand how donors give

    Turns out, knowing how donors give is almost as important to researchers as knowing how much they give.

    Subscribers reported that having donation data which covers a broad range of types of giving is incredibly useful. Being able to see prospects giving via their charitable trust, their company and as an individual gives a quick overview of the prospects’ philanthropic portfolio. Using this information, researchers can then advise on approach strategies – e.g. whether to approach a prospect as an individual major donor or via their charitable trust for a specific project.

    Breeze & Lloyd (2013) reported that whilst 73% of rich donors give via their charitable trust, 49% also give one off donations, 28% give via standing order/direct debit and 22% are planning to give via their will. This breadth of giving is reflected in Phi, with donations showing donors giving via multiple channels, making the data useful for trust fundraisers, corporate fundraisers and major donor or individual giving teams. Being able to contribute to so many areas of fundraising can make a prospect researcher an invaluable and valued part of the wider team.

    One subscriber also mentioned that the inclusion of political donations on Phi was especially useful as, because they were new to prospect research when they first started using Phi, they wouldn’t have thought of political donations as a source for prospect information. Also, US research in 2015 by DonorSearch reported that individuals who gave >$2.5k in political donations were 15 times more likely to give to a charitable organisation than those who hadn’t (whether this is also true of political donors in the UK is unclear, however).

  5. To improve the perception of researchers in their own organisations

    Perhaps our favourite benefit of all!

    As stated above, relationships with fundraisers have been known to improve through using donation data as a research tool, but subscribers further noted ways in which making use of donation data in different ways can highlight the enormous contribution prospect research makes to a team. Some examples are:

    • Prospect researchers use the data to increase their knowledge of the prospect pool and to prioritise long lists of prospects by previous giving – this is invaluable information when discussing cultivation strategies and allocating prospects to fundraisers.
    • Data on giving history enables researchers to boost numbers of new prospects, which can bring research into a more central role when moving through a campaign, for example.
    • Research into philanthropic interests had highlighted where prospects had made large gifts to other organisations that had strong links to their own Trustees or Chairman. Noting these links and connections was hugely important in devising an approach strategy for the prospect and wouldn’t have happened about without the research into philanthropic affiliations and donation history.

One more thing…

Perhaps the best outcome of all, for everyone involved, is to know that some of our subscribers have stated that research into prospects’ donation history ultimately helps lead to new gifts for their organisations. Which is, after all, what it’s all about!

We hope this proves useful for you in your own research.

And, finally…thanks to all of the subscribers to Factary Phi who took part in our survey!

Foundations of Wealth Revisited: A Story of Growing Potential…

For three years Factary produced a ‘Foundations of Wealth’ report focused on the Ultra High Net Worth Individuals (UHNWIs) and High Net Worth Individuals (HNWIs) (minimum estimated wealth of £10m) that founded grant-making trusts and foundations, featured in Factary’s New Trust Update during 2012, 2013 and 2014. We have now revisited these trusts and foundations to see how they are performing financially and what this means for hopeful beneficiaries.

These three reports, all available for free to New Trust Update subscribers via the new online archive service, contain profiles of 104 philanthropists and their grant-making trusts and foundations, of which nearly half are not on Trustfunding.org. Top of the list in terms of estimated wealth is Mrs Usha Mittal (£9.2bn) with other billionaires including the Swire family, the Fleming family, Ian Livingstone and Spiro Latsis. Together they have a combined estimated wealth of £34.36bn – the question is, how much of their wealth are they giving to charitable causes?

Based on financial information from the last financial year 98 trusts and foundations (six are still yet to submit their first set of accounts to the Charity Commission) had a total expenditure of £26.17m. Only seven had a total expenditure of over £1m in the last financial year whilst over one in 10 had an expenditure of £0 despite some having been registered for three years now. This is somewhat disappointing, especially when compared to their estimated wealth which shows that the average expenditure as a percentage of estimated wealth is a meagre 0.08%! Only seven individuals gave over 1% of their estimated wealth to other organisations in the last financial year, with the most generous person giving just under 3% of their estimated wealth as grants. This is well under the ‘5% of total assets’ figure that is often used as the basis for estimating gift capacity for major donors…

The biggest giver in terms of charitable expenditure was Sir Peter Harrison – former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of computer network company Chernikeeff. The Peter Harrison Heritage Foundation had a total expenditure of £4.5m in 2013/14 which included a grant of £2m to the Clarence House Restoration Project and £1.75m to the Imperial War Museum.

The most generous philanthropist, giving away the greatest percentage of his estimated wealth as charitable expenditure, was Sir Mick Davis – former Chief Executive Officer of the mining company Xstrata plc from 2001 until its merger with Glencore in 2013. The Davis Foundation had a total expenditure of £2.2m in 2014/15 which equates to 2.95% of his estimated wealth. Grant recipients were not disclosed.

Other significant grants awarded by these new philanthropists in the last couple of years include £6m from The Dorothy & Spiro Latsis Benevolent Trust to Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital and £1m to Boston Children’s Hospital (both in 2013 and hence excluded from this analysis of activity in the last financial year), £2m to the UBS Optimus Foundation by The Holroyd Foundation, £1m to the Royal Shakespeare Company by Lady Sainsbury’s Backstage Trust and £770,125 to  Clinton Health Access Initiative by the Surgo Foundation UK.

Notable names that have been less than generous with their charitable giving via their foundations to date include Michael Lemos (son of Greek shipping tycoon Constantinos Lemos) whose CML Family Foundation donated £3,406 which is 0.001% of his estimated wealth of £605m and Richard Higham (Group Chief Executive of Acteon Group Ltd) whose Higham Family Trust had an expenditure of just over £6,000 in 2014/15, which represents 0.004% of his estimated £150m wealth. Some of those whose trusts and foundations have shown no financial activity include former CEO of wealth management company Towry Andrew Fisher, Conservative Party donor and Domino’s Pizza franchise owner Moonpal Singh Grewal and Abhisheck Lodha, Managing Director of global real estate developer Lodha Group.

Of course there will be a number of possible reasons why these figures are so low – not all their charitable giving is directed through their foundation; this is not their primary foundation; the nature of their wealth means they do not have high levels of liquid assets; or they are still in the process of building up reserves.

It is this last point that is perhaps of most interest when we look at the figures. Whilst the total expenditure was only £26.17m in the last financial year, the total assets of the 79 trusts and foundations for which data was available was over five times this amount at £148.7m. 25 of these have assets in excess of £1m and 10 have assets in excess of £5m. This equates to an average of 0.62% of the philanthropists’ estimated wealth, with 15 building up assets of over 5% of their estimated wealth.

The foundation showing the largest asset amount is The Christie Foundation founded by Iain Abrahams, the former Executive Vice Chairman of Barclays Capital. The foundation has assets of over £21m for 2014/15 which represents over 40% of his estimated wealth, making him the also most generous benefactor. So far the only identified donation made by his foundation is of £150,000 to the Elton John Aids Foundation, of which he is also a Trustee.

What this shows is the considerable potential these trusts and foundations have for the sector. Whilst they may not yet be giving at a level in keeping with their vast wealth, these UHNWIs and HNWIs are ear-marking significant amounts of their wealth to be given away to charitable causes over the course of their lifetime and beyond, sustaining the charitable sector for years to come.

The financial data for these 104 trusts and foundations, along with the three Foundations of Wealth reports and all the past issues of New Trust Update dating back to 2005, is available online to NTU subscribers. If you want further information about New Trust Update and our searchable archive please contact Nicola Williams.

Measuring the Immeasurable

We prospect researchers say it all the time. But I’m not sure that our fundraising colleagues really get it.

 

It’s immeasurable. No, we cannot give you a precise figure.

 

An individual’s wealth is a private affair. Just how private is being made clear by the Panama Papers. Here we can see how people from footballers to political leaders hide their wealth and their income from public view. These are just the types of people that we prospect researchers are asked to analyse and measure; what is her wealth, and what is her gift capacity?

 

Bear in mind that Mossack Fonseca is described as Panama’s fourth largest firm in this offshore business. The Legal 500 lists five more leading firms operating in this sector in Panama. There are hundreds more in Panama, and more in the British Virgin Islands, Cayman, Gibraltar and any number of other fiscal watering holes. We are seeing, even with the 2.9 terabytes of information from Panama, only a tiny slice of the full picture.

 

The OECD reports that 27 of the 34 OECD members “store or require insufficient beneficial ownership information for legal persons, and no country is fully compliant with the beneficial ownership recommendations for legal arrangements.” In other words, as campaigners such as Andy Wightman have shown in his books on land ownership in Scotland, we cannot know who owns companies or who controls trusts.

 

The UK is rolling out regulations that will expose some of this – although information on the control of trusts (not the charitable sort, these are legal trusts) will only be available to ‘competent authorities.’ A grey phrase that, we can assume, excludes the, er, incompetent public. Business shareholdings of 25% or more will mean a declaration of beneficial ownership. It is worth noting that many of the schemes outlined in the Panama Papers involve small but valuable shareholdings. As Jake Hayman has already noted in Forbes, this is relevant to philanthropy.

 

The Panama Papers have many implications for prospect researchers. They are another mine of information – you will have to decide for yourself whether this is good practice, or not – on wealth. They remind us that we must be cautious with our estimates of wealth and gift capacity. And they demonstrate that our due diligence is less than comprehensive; if we cannot know who controls a business that wants to donate to us, or we cannot say  which companies Samantha Supporter controls, then how can we measure whether she meets our due diligence requirement?

 

I suggest sticking this version of The Panama Papers on the door of the Prospect Research office in your organisation:

1. No, we can’t tell you how wealthy she is
2. No, we can’t tell you who owns that property
3. Don’t expect due diligence to be really diligent. We’ll do our best, but don’t ask us to hack any more Panama lawyers.

Out. Here. Now.

I met her on Tuesday, in Bilbao, Spain. She had started back in work on Monday after a two year break. Trained as a journalist, she had been allocated a new job at the NGO. One that had never existed, before Monday.

Paula is the NGO’s first prospect researcher. The latest recruit in Europe to fundraising’s most exciting profession.

Most exciting? Aren’t you being a bit hyperbolic, Chris? What about the glamorous folk who do events, or the facers on the street with their VR technology? Or the growing band of major donor fundraisers? Isn’t that more exciting?

No. They are welcome to their red carpets, their Samsung Edges and their private dining rooms. None of them are half as productive as a good prospect researcher, nor at such an exciting moment in the professionalization of fundraising.

 

Productivity

You are the Dean of a Business School. You want to run a €100m campaign to expand the School. You go out and recruit a team of 6 fundraisers and a couple of assistants. They tell you that they need good research, so you hire one prospect researcher.

The six fundraisers bring in a total of €120m. That’s €20 million each. Fabulous result … except that it would not have happened at all if you had not had that prospect researcher. She was the one who found the names you met. She was the one who found your top donors. She was the one who gave you the profiles and the briefings, suggesting you could ask more than you thought.

It’s her, the prospect researcher, who wins the productivity gold medal. Because she found most of that €120 million.

She is far too modest to claim that prize. But this month, Prospect Development Pride Month, she can.

 

It’s Exciting, here in Europe

Prospect research, and by extension philanthropy and fundraising, is going through a revolution here in Europe.

It’s a revolution in transparency. Thanks to the growth of professional staff amongst Europe’s foundations – staff who want to talk about their foundation’s successes – and thanks to governments pushing foundations to open up, we can see further, and deeper than ever before.

The Dutch Government has recently passed regulations requiring endowed foundations there to publish their accounts. The Catalan government has passed a law requiring transparency amongst publicly funded foundations, as has the Spanish government. Switzerland’s increasingly professional foundation sector has opened up with an association website, and the Scottish charity regulator is about to put many charity accounts online.

If you live on the other side of the Atlantic all of this will sound woefully like the Dark Ages. But for us, here in Europe, it is an exciting time. Because transparency means not only that we can do better prospect research but also that philanthropists themselves can see what their peers are doing.

A significant barrier to the growth of high-value philanthropy here in Europe is that people of wealth have no reference points for giving. A partner in a law firm does not know what partners in other law firms are giving, because the information is not anywhere in the public domain. In the UK there is now significant reporting of donations in the public domain; at Factary we research and compile this into Factary Phi. Continental Europe has been more reticent, but recently organisations including HEC, the Paris business school, or the Musée du Louvre have started to publish the names of major donors. At last, philanthropists in Europe can see how much they should be giving.

Transparency is transforming our profession.

Paula has an exciting career ahead of her. She is joining the profession at a moment when it is getting really interesting. She, like me, can be proud to be a prospect researcher.

 

#ResearchPride

This blog is inspired like so much in my career by the wonderful Helen Brown. She created #ResearchPride with this blog https://www.helenbrowngroup.com/coming-out/ . Now, each March is #ResearchPride month, so feel free to join in and spread the, er, good vibrations.

 

Helen is continually updating this post (she does not sleep, that girl) with new blogs on #ResearchPride at https://www.helenbrowngroup.com/proud-voices-in-harmony/

Here is a selection of other blogs on the topic:

http://apramidsouth.blogspot.com.es/2016/03/happy-prospect-development-pride-month.html
http://prospectdevelopment.blogspot.com.es/2016/03/evolve-by-getting-involved.html
http://searchresearch1.blogspot.com.es/2016/03/why-research-skills-matter-more-than.html?platform=hootsuite
http://www.jenniferfilla.com/researchpride2016/
http://www.prospectresearchinstitute.org/ivegotyourprivacy-researchpride/
http://www.staupell.com/blog/my-bourne-identity
https://diversitydrivendata.wordpress.com/2016/03/01/q-for-researchpride-month/
https://srbernstein2.wordpress.com/2016/03/11/if-i-could-save-time-in-a-bottle/
https://www.iwave.com/2016/03/02/prospect-research-pride-month/
https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/five-reasons-why-my-work-life-prospect-development-sharon-parkinson


Twitter hashtag: #ResearchPride

I want to be in America

It’s frustrating, living in Europe (no, this is not going to be a piece about Mr Cameron and his referendum…)

It’s frustrating because we have so little data on philanthropy. Everywhere I look there is data on philanthropy in the USA, and a stream of clever academic research papers from across the Atlantic on who is giving, why they are giving and what they are giving.

But Europe? Yes, there are some very good centres of research, but there are not nearly enough of them.

This morning I checked the listings for academic centres of research into philanthropy, at the International Society for Third Sector Research. The results? Of the 153 academic centres of research identified by ISTR, 53 are in just one country. Yes,the USA. The next nearest country by volume of research centres is the UK, with just 11. Counting all of the centres across Europe, we still come to a smaller total than the USA with 36 centres against their 53.

Here are the (approximately) 50 countries of Europe:

Academic Research Centres in Philanthropy, Europe
Academic Research Centres in Philanthropy, Europe

And here is the single United States of America:

Academic Research Centres in Philanthropy, USA
Academic Research Centres in Philanthropy, USA

Quantity is not the same as quality, and Europe’s research centres produce a lot of very useful and valuable data. But we are being held back in our understanding of philanthropy in Europe because we have not built the academic power-houses that our colleagues in the US have created. This is a source of bias in our research – with all that wealth of data from the USA the models from across the Atlantic have become the norm. In Europe this has led a few people – notably in France – to look for new paradigms, different models, in philanthropy research. Good news, if we are to build a balanced, culturally-sensitive, understanding of philanthropy.

The Laboratory for Philanthropy

I am just back from the annual European Venture Philanthropy Association conference, this year in Madrid. I have attended most of the organisation’s fifteen conferences – because venture philanthropy is at the cutting edge of all of Europe’s philanthropy.

The conference is increasingly focused on impact investing. This phrase has as many interpretations as there are official languages in the EU – but it covers the broad range, from grants, to projects that can demonstrate social impact, to for-profit investments in social enterprises that deliver near-market rates of return. There were a mixture of social enterprises, charities and foundations pitching for business at the event, but all of them were able to show precisely what return – social or financial or both – they could offer. More, to be blunt, than many of our largest charities can manage.

Scale is a central theme. This word is used to mean “growth” as in: ‘We’ve got a great idea – how can we scale it up?’ It is the obsession of my friend Miquel de Paladella who announced a successful second round of investment – €430,000 – to expand the JumpMath franchise in Spain. Visit their website (in English) and you’ll see that their impact indicators are on the front page. This display of impact is not the only reason for their success, but it is central to explaining why they raised finance.

Crowdfunding was popular at the conference. It’s growing fast in all its varied flavours, from crowdfunding for equity through crowdfunding for loans. Factary’s former landlord, Jamie Hartzell of Ethex, gave a concise description of the ethical issues that surround this type of finance. The first social stock exchange in Spain, La Bolsa Social presented its crowdfunded equity programme, and we also heard from Babyloan (yes, that is its real name) in France. Babyloan has tied up with Total, the French energy company, to crowdfund microfinance for green energy projects there.

We discussed the role of foundations and trusts in all this. BMW Foundation described their work in professionalising ‘pro bono’ support for non-profits, working with their alumni and staff. Seb Elsworth of Access Capital described the blend of loans and capacity building that they are planning to offer smaller organisations in the UK, some via Community Foundations. And Arnaud Gillin of Innpact in Luxembourg described the Shell Foundation’s involvement in creating loan structures to support small, growing enterprises through GroFin; it looked complicated but in essence it involves the foundation providing a grant to a lending entity to encourage other investors to join a structured, layered, lending scheme. If the loans fail, the grant money takes the burden of failure, giving lenders higher up the tree greater security. Innpact demonstrated that a grant-maker could multiply by at least four, and sometimes up to 20, the impact of a grant by working in this way.

How can we use all this? In past blogs about EVPA I have emphasised the need to keep an eye on what is happening. Now it’s time to move from watching, to action. Take a look at the extraordinary growth of crowdfunding for example. Robert Wardrop, a Research Fellow at the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance showed figures from their 2015 report that indicate a 104% increase in donation-based crowdfunding 2012-2014 in Europe excluding the UK. Reward-based crowdfunding is growing even faster at 127%. There are opportunities for fundraisers here.

Or take the new financial models for foundations – could your organisation structure an entity to offer loans to, say, small farmers, using the expertise you already have and a few of your foundation partners?

And finally, one cheering fact. Despite concerns that we have expressed before (see our report Trust Women for example) about the lack of women in senior positions in European philanthropy, this year’s conference had a majority of women present; 51% of participants were women. A strong message for the future.

The EVPA conference is the bubbling laboratory for philanthropy in Europe. It is where you will meet new people with new ideas – some scary, some brilliant – and see where the mainstream will be, five years later.

Next year’s conference is in Paris. See you there?

Philanthropy in the Gulf – Reporting from Takaful 2015

I am at Takaful 2015 in Abu Dhabi, the conference on philanthropy organised annually by the Gerhart Center, American University of Cairo. It is a fascinating insight into how philanthropy functions in societies in transition – a single frame in a long movie whose end we cannot see.

The big theme on day one of the conference was youth. Defined here as anyone under 35, youth were the focus of the keynote speech by Sheika Al Zain Al Sabah, the head of the Ministry of Youth Affairs in Kuwait. She described how the ministry is working as a lightning conductor for the views of young people in the country. It was the educated younger people of these societies in transition who led the demonstrations and protests of the Arab Spring, and Kuwait has responded by creating a Government department, led by a young member of the Royal Family, to channel their views into policy. Young people were also the focus of a presentation by Lina Hourani, Director of CSR at Al Ahly Group (http://www.csralahligroup.com/), who run 10 day training courses for young social entrepreneurs – next year they run the course at the University of Bristol.

Venture philanthropy is present in the region, and Khulood El Nawas, Chief Officer for Sustainability, Emirates Foundation (http://www.emiratesfoundation.ae/EF/en/about-us/vision-mission) described their four-stage Incubate – Pilot – Scale – Spinoff model for developing programmes. The big gap for them and other speakers was the lack of data – baseline data on young people was absent or unreliable, so measuring impact was difficult or impossible.

The traditional forms of giving are evolving rapidly in these societies, and Omar Bortolazzi of the University of Bologna (https://www.unibo.it/sitoweb/omar.bortolazzi2/cv-en) described the ways in which awqaf (endowed foundations) are changing in Muslim countries in South East Asia, where donors can give through the internet to “e-waqf” set up for a variety of charitable purposes. Dr Youcef Benyza from the University of Batna, Algeria (http://www.univ-batna.dz/index.php/en/) tackled the governance of Zakat funds. Zakat (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ZakaT), the third pillar of Islam, is a form of religious giving based on income and assets such as savings that are not being circulated. In Algeria each mosque collects zakat and passes the money up to a regional zakat office, who report to a government sponsored zakat agency. The process lacks transparency (there is no auditing, and no public reporting) and as a consequence there are regular newspaper reports of corruption in the system. But there is also strong resistance to reform because the funds are regarded as sacred and thus outwith the realm of government or auditors.

I ran a workshop on building partnerships with philanthropic foundations, where we talked about some of the barriers in the region to partnering with outside agencies. In some parts of the region there is suspicion of external funding partners (from Europe or the USA) and there is also a strong sense that regional nonprofits should be raising funds in their own countries, not depending on outsiders. There are legal constraints too – sometimes not clearly defined – that make it hard for organisations here to accept financial support from external partners. But there is a real interest in sharing expertise and knowledge, so we focused on building partnerships at the technician (specialist, expert) level; nonprofits here have developed clever ways of dealing with social problems, and I am looking forward to hearing today (Thursday) about the Wataneya Society for the Development of Orphans (https://www.linkedin.com/company/wataneya-society), who developed a quality standards scheme as a way of improving the conditions for the thousands of children in Egyptian orphanages.