Welcome to the November 2016 issue of the Factary Phi Newsletter.
2016 has been my personal annus horribilis, at least in the public domain. (Privately, I’m fine thanks.)
It has been the year when two of my working-life projects have fallen apart.
First, my life as a European was cut off at a stroke by England’s vote for Brexit.
And then as an early Christmas present, the Information Commissioner decided that more or less everything that I had dedicated my working life to doing – understanding philanthropists so that charities could work better with them – was illegal, immoral and subject to multi-thousand pound fines.
The Brexit decision is too political a story for this blog. Suffice it to say that when one choses as a UK citizen to live in another EU country, learn its languages, learn and enjoy its rich cultural traditions, and feel thoroughly welcome as an immigrant, it is physically painful to know that a cabal of alt-right Ministers in Westminster are determined to throw you out.
So let’s focus on the Information Commissioner’s announcement yesterday. We would expect the Commissioner to use cautious language. She does not. She piles right into the topic by claiming that ‘millions of people who give their time and money to benefit good causes will be saddened to learn that their generosity wasn’t enough.’
This is a clear example of evidence-based policy making. The Commissioner has evidence, we assume, that there are ‘millions of people’ who will be saddened that their generosity did not suffice. Given the paucity of information on donors in the UK, it would be so helpful if the Commissioner would share this data with the rest of us.
If the subjects gave their permission, of course.
Given that we are living in an age of austerity in which the ICO’s paymasters in government (of whichever colour) are cutting back on benefits, rights and payments, I would be utterly astonished if there were even ten donors, let alone millions, who would feel that their generosity was enough. It is never enough. Ask any of the homeless people in London if it is enough. Or the 960,000 people living in poverty in Scotland.
The Commissioner then applies the same broad brush approach to what she describes as ‘wealth screening.’ The language is purposefully vague and catches within its apparent scope almost all customer-focused, relationship-building, fundraising. It appears, on one reading of the statement, that it is somehow wrong to use information including ‘supporters’ names and addresses, dates of birth and the value and date of the last donation.’ It appears that to investigate ‘income, property values, lifestyle and even friendship circles,’ may be illegal, along with the ability to model ‘donors most likely to leave money in their wills.’
Adrian Beney has pointed out in an excellent blog that this is to do not with information or privacy, but our attitudes to money.
For me, it’s an Edwardian view of ‘charity.’ It’s a penny in an old man’s hat. Thanks guv’nor. Lord bless your little ones. It is about a one-way relationship, donor to ‘charity.’
There is a load of evidence (yes, actual evidence Commissioner) that this is not how donors want to relate to ‘charities’ (or, as we now call them, non-profits, or Social Purpose Organisations.)
Here is just one of dozens of research reports I could cite; ‘Donors respond to personalised communications from charities that they have a relationship with, and prompts from family, friends or colleagues.’ (source, Bagwell, Sally, Lucy de las Casas, Matt van Poortvliet, and Robb Abercrombie. ‘Money for Good UK: Understanding Donor Motivation and Behaviour’. London: New Philanthropy Capital, March 2013. http://www.thinknpc.org/publications/money-for-good-uk/., page 3).
And yet the Commissioner rails against non-profits that identify ‘friendship circles.’
The Commissioner has, either purposely or unwittingly, threatened the development of high-value philanthropy in the UK. By using this broad language, by focusing on an evidently outdated view of ‘charity’, and above all by fining organisations that are trying to build relationships with their supporters based on mutual understanding and knowledge, she has ensured that UK charities will step back, return to the door-knock and the ‘appeal’, never knowing (because the ICO bans such research) who is behind the door or receiving the letter.
This lack of research will drive a wrecking-ball through relationships between high-value philanthropists and non-profits. It is not coincidental that so many people of wealth are now establishing their own foundations; it is already hard enough to persuade them that they should build a relationship with an existing non-profit.
Thanks to the ICO, that job just become harder.
Chris Carnie is the author of ‘How Philanthropy is Changing in Europe‘, to be published by Policy Press in January 2017.
At the Researchers in Fundraising Conference, 25th November 2016, I promised a list of the sources I mentioned. Here it is.
Bilanz 300 Die Riechsten
Type Magazine Article
Abstract Annual rich list published by Swiss business and economics magazine.
CNMV – Informe anual de Remuneraciones de los Consejeros de las sociedades cotizadas
Institution Comisión Nacional del Mercado de Valores
Abstract Annual survey of salaries of company directors in quoted companies in Spain. Shows breakdown of average salaries, and is useful for estimating income.
FIN Association of Foundations in the Netherlands/ Vereniging van fondsen
Type Web Page
Abstract FIN, the Vereniging van Fondsen in Nederland, is the association of leading Dutch foundations
Fondsenboek 2015 and Fondsendisk
Author Sophie Duijts
Publisher Walburg Pers
Abstract Directory of foundations in the Netherlands, including information on 737 foundations. €49.50 price.
# of Pages 448
Helen Brown Group
Type Web Page
Kamer van Koophandel
Type Web Page
Abstract Legal register for all companies in the Netherlands. Includes company ownership information and accounts
Abstract Lifestyle magazine aimed at HNWIs in the Netherlands. Includes some profile interviews, and occasional features on philanthropy.
Moving Mainstream. The European Alternative Finance Benchmarking Report
Author Robert Wardrop
Author Bryan Zhang
Author Raghavendra Rau
Author Mia Gray
Place Cambridge, UK
Institution University of Cambridge, Judge Business School
Abstract Includes details on crowdfunding, with data on growth, with peer-to-peer fundraising
Type Web Page
Abstract Business website and magazine for Luxembourg. Publish an annual “Paperjam Guide” including a business directory and biographies of company leaders.
Portal de la Transparencia
Type Web Page
Abstract Spanish Government website showing structure, funcion, curricula and salaries of top civil servants.
Type Web Page
Accessed 05/09/2013, 16:03:03
Abstract Company information from the French Registre du Commerce
Type Web Page
Abstract Listing of ANBI including foundations in the Netherlands, following the transparency law. Searchable by foundation name.
How Philanthropy is Changing in Europe.
Author Christopher Carnie
Publisher Policy Press
Abstract There is a new age of philanthropy in Europe – a €50 billion plus financial market. Changing attitudes to wealth, growing social need and innovations in finance are creating a revolution in how we give, aided and sometimes abetted by governments. Mapping the changes, Christopher Carnie focuses on high-value philanthropists – people and foundations as ‘major donors’ – investing or donating €25,000 upwards.
Welcome to the October 2016 issue of the Factary Phi Newsletter.
Welcome to the September 2016 issue of the Factary Phi Newsletter.
Wherever you are, at whatever time in history, you will see people giving to help others. Poor people give, rich people give, young and old give.
Our role as professionals in fundraising is to mediate the giving, to help people find the cause that best fits their vision of how the world should be. We help people to structure and organise their giving, show how they are making a change to the lives of others, and stand as guarantors for the honesty and impact of our organisations.
That is what is happening in the Middle East and across the Arabic-speaking world. Ancient traditions of personal philanthropy – a cultural norm and a religious requirement – are evolving rapidly thanks to the work of philanthropists, governments and rulers…and fundraisers.
I’m giving a Masterclass with UNHCR’s Reem Abdelhamid on fundraising in the Middle East, at the International Fundraising Congress, 18-21 October, Noordwijkerhout, Netherlands
A LOT OF WORLD
The total population of the Arabic-speaking world – the 22 nations of the League of Arab States – is 392m people (5% of the world’s population), of whom one-third are under 15 years old. Despite the horrors of war and of the forced movements of people – the stuff we see in our news media – the region is developing the social and cultural infrastructures that allow fundraising to evolve; education, taxation, financial systems, the legal and fiscal formalisation of charities and foundations, and personal wealth.
Fundraisers get a rush of blood to the head at the phrase ‘personal wealth.’ We have stereotype pictures of fabulously rich individuals dropping millions into the hands of eager fundraisers in Europe’s leading universities and museums. But that is only a small part of the story. Because personal wealth is spreading outward into a growing middle class, who are becoming the day-to-day donors of national and international organisations.
WHAT NOT TO DO
This is the third consecutive year when we have had IFC workshops or Masterclasses on fundraising in the Arabic-speaking world. Each time, we have learned a little more about how to operate in the region – and what not to do.
NOT A CASH MACHINE
Reem Abdelhamid, UNHCR Advisor for Private Sector Partnerships in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, warned early in the series that the region is not a cash-machine. No-one should be planning to hit the streets of Jeddah or Dubai, raise lots of money, and head off.
As UNHCR and other INGOs have found, the Arabic-speaking world requires – just like any other region – careful research, planning, long-term investment and clear links between the donor and the social or environmental problem they are solving.
IT’S NOT ONE PLACE
You would not treat Europe, Latin America, or Asia as one homogeneous region. The same is true of the Arabic-speaking world, where the fundraising that you might do in Kuwait is different from that you would do in Egypt. In part this is because a significant part of the region is a historic area of transit between Europe and Asia – so there are different mixtures of cultures, religions, languages, and thus of philanthropy in different states, and even in different cities. To get a clearer idea of the variation across the region, read the publications from The John D. Gerhart Center for Philanthropy & Civic Engagement at the American University of Cairo.
To make sense of the region you are going to need local help. Houssam Chahin, who has years of experience in the region first with Greenpeace then with UNHCR, stresses the importance of recruiting and developing local teams. This is no different from opening a branch in Germany or Japan; you need people who not only speak the language but who understand the culture and know the market. People who know why this Sheikha is important, and who understand why she might not want to meet you but would meet a female colleague instead. People who can cope with the contradictions that emerge in any developing market, and who can help your organisation steer its way around the legal restrictions that may appear.
In Western Europe we are used to the idea that NGOs challenge governments – campaigning for freedoms, rights and the environment. You are not going to get a warm welcome if you enter the Arabic-speaking region on a campaign ticket. Just reverse the situation and imagine a Kuwaiti foundation opening an office in Europe to campaign against – to pick a ridiculous example – vegetarianism, and you will see why. The developing states of the region have national plans and priorities, and philanthropy, especially strategic philanthropy or ‘major donors’ is often aligned to these priorities, so your fundraising is going to be aligned that way too.
COME AND FIND OUT MORE
The Arabic-speaking world and within that, the Middle East, is a fascinating, fast-changing, challenging environment for fundraising, with huge potential. Come and join Reem Abdelhamid and me for our Masterclass on ‘Fundraising in the Middle East: How, Why and What?’ at IFC 2016, or one of our workshops that will focus on key issues in fundraising in the region.
But do it now; there are only two places left on the Masterclass!
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