Below is an extract from an extensive interview with Peter Cafferkey for Investec. Read more.
There are three types of new philanthropists.
You get one group who genuinely don’t know where to start. But very quickly, you can find what they don’t want to do. So, you could say: ‘Do you want to give it all to an animal charity?’ and they might say: ‘No, I want to focus on children.’ Sometimes people won’t realise they’ve already got some clear ideas – it’s just a case of asking the right questions.
Others will come knowing one part of the criteria. There might be something in their family history or where they grew up that will be connected to the type of charity they want to support.
The third group will have been giving for a while, but they’re not getting results. They’re not seeing the change they thought they’d see. Or it’s been tougher than they imagined.
Our role is to ask: ‘What are you trying to achieve?’ Or: ‘What is the family or individual story you want to tell?’ And we make it less scary. There is pressure on philanthropists to have a vision, a mission, a dream from day one. But it’s normal to not know everything. Bill Gates didn’t set out knowing that he wanted to combat malaria.
What links all of these individuals is their desire to want to do good. Yes, they might benefit from tax reliefs, and it might be good for their brand or business or family name. But the primary driver is that they want to do good.
“You won’t know what you want to get out of giving, or how you want to engage in philanthropy, by sitting at home. You learn by doing.”
It could even be giving away a small amount of money to a local charity. You won’t know what you want to get out of giving, or how you want to engage in philanthropy, by sitting at home. Or even by doing all the research in the world, or paying someone to do the research. You learn by doing.
You have to work out how much time you want to give, what role philanthropy will play in your future, and how hands-on you want to be. Sometimes we meet clients who feel a bit paralysed because there’s this pressure. This feeling of: ‘I haven’t worked it all out yet; I don’t know what I’m doing’.
Some of the most thoughtful and committed philanthropists I’ve met spend a lot of time talking to people about it. So don’t be afraid to reach out to an established philanthropist – they can provide great insight.
Image: Ryoji Iwata, Unsplash