Facing our Greatest Immediate Challenge – The Role of Philanthropy
9 July 2020
Reading the articles in this edition of Philanthropy Impact Magazine, the readiness among contributors to accelerate action toward effective social change is striking. At the height of lockdown, we may not have ventured beyond our front doors, but the pandemic has forced us all to contemplate our interdependence.
More importantly, we are counting the human cost of the structural weaknesses and inequalities across our societies. Before the COVID-19 crisis, we debated how to balance environmental, social and governance concerns to maximise social and financial return. As Greg Davies observes in his article ‘Social Investing: What do Investors Want?’, ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) funds focused most on the ‘G’ and least on the ‘E’, because ‘G’ was easier to measure. If ‘E’ was difficult, ‘S’ was even harder.
Back then, ‘social’ was a theoretical construct. It isn’t any more. Today we pine for ‘S’. Our daily lives are fractured by the void of social distance. Our societies are suffering the humanitarian and economic damage that happens when we are forced apart.
We are learning the hard way about the importance of togetherness. So, as our thoughts now turn towards recovery from the immediate crisis, Victoria Papworth from the Coutts Institute urges us to consider that it is not enough to do things differently, we must do different things ‘Meaningful Networks, Relevant Contact’.
This edition of Philanthropy Impact Magazine challenges us to do precisely that: to consider what different things we will do as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Clare Wilkins from New Philanthropy Capital suggests advisers encourage philanthropists to move toward unrestricted giving ‘Helping Philanthropists Respond to Coronavirus’.
This, she says will give charities the resources they need to work flexibly and responsively in the times ahead, and will arguably go the furthest to help charities. Jennifer Emms of Maurice Turnor Gardner points out that we also need to re-think trusteeship as the volunteer army in the UK faces the unenviable challenge of navigating an economic crisis that may be as deep as the Great Depression of the 1930s ‘Implications for Becoming a Charity Trustee in These Difficult Times’.
Michelle Wright from Cause4 ‘Next Generation Philanthropy — What Matters to Millennial Mega-Donors’ and Martial Paris from Wise ‘Philanthropy is Everyone’s Business’ argue that the younger generation of wealth owners need a seat at the decision-making table so their voice is heard in the debate about how we can co-create a better society. On a similar theme, Olga Tarasov of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors says giving while living will encourage more donors to engage in thoughtful and strategic philanthropy ‘Global Trends and Strategic Time Horizons in Family Philanthropy’.
However, what struck me most of all when reading this edition’s articles, and contemplating the enormity of the reboot ahead, was the personal story of Darshita Gillies from Maanch. Describing her personal journey from the bottom 1 per cent of society to the top 1 per cent, she suggests we keep this question in mind: what would you do if you considered the whole world your family? ‘A Global Community in Adversity: What Lessons can Philanthropists Learn From the World’s Response to Coronavirus’.
As you ponder this question, I am sure the notion of togetherness will feature somewhere in your response.