It Will Take a Researcher

It will take a researcher to wake up the fundraising community.


Because it is time to wake up your fundraising colleagues to a new reality in philanthropy. A reality that is working its way through many of your major donors, your trust donors, your finance sector and bank donors, and even your government grants programme.

This is not some insidious virus, although it could eventually cause the extinction of some organisations. Its effects are dramatic on the organisations and people it touches, showing then a new reality, new priorities and a new and different way of reaching their goals.

This is Venture Philanthropy and Social Impact Investment (VP/SI), the subject of last week’s EVPA conference in Paris. The conference confirmed the coming of age of VP/SI, with a mix of leading foundations, banks, philanthropists and a growing band of intermediaries working in the “financial ecosystem” around this mix of investment and philanthropy.

The banks and advisors are very excited by this new market. They like the mixture of social change and financial tools, and they are building teams to help their HNWI and UHNWI clients work in this area; I met a seven-person team from one French bank including account managers, due diligence staff and social investment experts.

Welcome to your newest competitors. They are well-resourced, hungry for new business, have loads of great customer relationship data, and have a dizzyingly good contact book.

Your HNWI and UHNWI donors and prospects, along with trusts and foundations that you work with, are being courted now, by the banks. If your fundraising colleagues are not aware of this trend then maybe it’s time for you to give them a wake-up call.

Doing that could be easier than you think.


One of the remarkable (at least in Europe) characteristics of this market is its transparency. I chaired a session on failures in philanthropic investments, and 50 people in the room ‘fessed up to one or other bad decision, and then shared the leanings from their failure.

For prospect researchers the new transparency means that there is an increasing volume of well-researched information on the sector.

Start with the EVPA website, where there are high-quality research reports, and a full list of members (Factary is an Associate Member). Then check the HNWl offerings of banks such as JP Morgan, Credit Suisse or Rabobank. Next take a look at foundations operating in this space. Esmée Fairbain Foundation or Impetus /PEF in the UK, Fondazione CRT and Fondazione Cariplo in Italy, Noaber in the Netherlands… The list is growing, and in Europe alone EVPA has 200 members. In Asia the growth is even faster and EVPA’s sister there, AVPN now has 300 members.

Then look at how organisations, many of them small social change non-profits, have taken up the challenge of working with these demanding but exciting investors. The EVPA website includes case studies and examples. Check out Factary’s reports on the sector.

And finally talk to your colleagues. Tell them that there is a significant new movement in high-value philanthropy. It’s a movement of people who want to invest, not give. Who want to participate, truly participate, in your work; these people do not want a packaged project on a gilt plate. Tell them that in the view of many VPs, traditional fundraising is a costly, inefficient way of winning funds. And tell them that this will take time but that it could transform your organisation and, more importantly, transform the lives of the people you work with.

But do, please, tell them. Because no-one else is. Amongst the 500 delegates at the EVPA conference I counted just three fundraisers. Three! In a hall full of philanthropists.

Your research could help your colleague to be number four. Do it, now.



Chris Carnie’s latest book – How Philanthropy is Changing in Europe – is to be published in January 2017 by Policy Press: pre-order your copy here!

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?

The Venture Philanthropists: our ‘very comprehensive’ report

At this week’s European Venture Philanthropy Association ( conference, a senior UK venture philanthropist described our latest report, The Venture Philanthropists, as “very comprehensive.”

The focus of the report is the 254 board members and patrons who lead the UK venture philanthropy sector. We include biographies of each, and a handy networking index to identify who is linked to which fund. Many are people of wealth; we identify £38 billion in personal wealth.

Contents page 1

The 177-page report includes:

  • A clear explanation of venture philanthropy
  • A brief history of VP
  • Detailed analysis of trends in this fast-growing sector
  • Detailed profiles of the 22 venture philanthropy funds active in the UK
  • Biographies of the 254 board members and advisers who lead VP funds
  • More than 150 organisations and projects that have benefited from venture philanthropy
  • A who’s who in VP index linking people to companies and charitable trusts and foundations

The Venture Philanthropists is available at:

  • Non-profits: £250 per copy
  • For-profits: £300 per copy
  • Subscribers to Factary’s New Trust Update or Factary Phi, or those taking out a subscription with the report: £150 per copy.

To order a copy of the report contact Nicola Williams at Factary, or call Factary on +44 117 916 6740.

Who's who in VP
Who’s who in VP
Impetus-PEF people
Impetus-PEF biographies

Venture Philanthropy: A Great Growth Story

We have just completed an in-depth study of the UK’s venture philanthropy sector – and it is all about growth.

Two years ago we reported that there were 11 venture philanthropy organisations in the UK, giving (or investing, or lending) a total of £52 million.

This year we have identified 22 organisations active in VP in the UK – double the 2011 number – with assets of £2.8 billion and income, at £274 million, up 171% on two years ago. The fastest growth area of all is in grants, loans and investments, up 221% on two years ago.

The report – The Venture Philanthropists – focuses on the 254 board members and patrons in the UK VP sector, including brief biographies of each. We include a Networking index that shows the links between VP supporters, companies and trusts or foundations. The report gives detailed information on each of the 22 venture philanthropy funds active in the UK.

The 177-page report includes information on more than 150 charities and projects that have benefited from venture philanthropy.

The Venture Philanthropists is available now:

  • Non-profits £250 per copy
  • For-profits £300 per copy
  • Subscribers to Factary’s New Trust Update, or those taking out a subscription with the report, £150 per copy.

To order your copy contact Nicola Williams at Factary, or call us on +44 117 916 6740.

Impetus Trust and Private Equity Foundation merger, board

Two leading UK venture philanthropy funds are to merge – an interesting move and one which again underlines the clear business-like view of venture philanthropists. It’s a move that many philanthropists will welcome – particularly those who criticise the non-profit sector for duplication of effort.

The only downside is that the new entity’s board – announced in a press-release here – is all-male. This ties in with the gender imbalance that we identified in our 2011 report “The Venture Philanthropists,” in which we noted that 80% of board members are men.

In May 2012, Mama Cash launched a report ( showing that only 4.8% of European foundation spend was directed at women and girls. Could this be in part caused by the male dominance of leadership roles in European foundations?

Venture Philanthropy hits £1bn

I was honoured to chair this year’s annual conference of EVPA, the 141-member association for venture philanthropists in Europe. The conference included a wide range of speakers and new data on venture philanthropy, showing that it has now reached a cumulative £1bn in philanthropic investments.

Martine Godefroid, Managing Director of Factary Europe, attended too – and we combined our impressions for this article in Alliance magazine.

The Venture Philanthropists

The UK’s venture philanthropy industry, now nine years old, is worth more than £1.5 billion and provides more than £50 million in support for nonprofits, according to a report issued today by Factary.

But who are the people behind this new wave in philanthropy?

Factary’s report, ‘The Venture Philanthropists – A Review of Venture Philanthropy funds in the UK and the people behind them,’ focuses on the 135 trustees, donors, patrons and board members in the UK VP sector, including brief biographies on each. Over half of the trustees come from the financial sector – with 29% coming from the private equity industry, a key target audience for many nonprofits. Many are wealthy – we identify more than £5.2 billion in personal wealth in the report.

Factary’s team has analysed the UK venture philanthropy sector, identifying the eleven key funds, reviewing their areas of interest, their finances and the people involved. We review the spectacular growth in investment income in the sector and look in detail at the £51.8m in charitable grants, loans and investments made by the sector.

The report – 70 pages of newly researched information – includes a detailed index of corporate and trust connections. The report details the trends in the sector, as well as giving background on venture philanthropy – history, definition and key features. Download a contents list here.

How to Order

To order a report email with your contact details. The report is available at £125 per copy.

The report is featured in UK Fundraising and there is an interview with Chris Carnie at Helen Brown Group. We’re also featured at Philanthropy UK.