When the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland launched ‘GeNErosity: A Festival of Philanthropy and Giving’ last November, it had been two years in the making. But actually, that’s not quite true. At the time, our partners at Newcastle University were undertaking a staggering piece of research into the history of philanthropy in North East England. They charted philanthropists dating back to 1125 and to give some perspective on just how long ago that was, one was William the Conqueror’s great-grandson. So perhaps 900 years in the making is a little more accurate.
The first of its kind in the world, the three week GeNErosity Festival comprised of 50 activities across the North East of England, and had three clear aims:
1. To celebrate and raise awareness of what philanthropy has achieved in the North East
Newcastle University’s research gave us this a unique insight into local philanthropy from the Norman Conquest to the present day. What became abundantly clear was how rich our philanthropic history is. Setting aside how the area is dominated by buildings, monuments and green spaces paid for by philanthropic acts, there are charities set-up hundreds of years ago that exist today in perpetuity. The research was shared for the first time at the launch event, where Professor Charles Harvey captivated the 300 strong audience with the first ever telling of the story of how philanthropy had helped to shape the North East.
2. To question, debate and inform the future role of philanthropy in the North East
The Festival programme looked at the future of philanthropy from many angles, from Rhodri Davies, CAF, talking about cryptocurrency, blockchain and the impact of disruptive technology to a dynamic panel of highly influential philanthropists discussing ‘Transformational Philanthropy’.
We also commissioned local theatre charity, November Club, to get young people’s take on philanthropy, which resulted in a fabulous ‘flash mob’ piece that fooled and entertained the audiences at headline events, plus an amusing rendition of the Philanthropy Tango - YouTube A sell out ‘Great Philanthropy Debate’ saw four expert national speakers debate the motion ‘Philanthropy does more for donors than it does for society’. Luckily the audience voted against the motion!
3. To encourage more philanthropy and philanthropists by demonstrating the joy of giving and the good it can do
‘How to speak confidently to your clients about philanthropy’ was the subject of a seminar for professional advisors to do just that, with a panel of experts sharing their experiences and tips, which can be viewed here Professional advisors | Community Foundation
#poweredbyphilanthropy was a critical element to the Festival, with 27 local charities throwing open their doors to showcase how philanthropy helps them to changes lives for the better every day. From ukulele workshops to walking tours, children’s storytelling to bread making socials, there was a diverse selection of events to choose from.
What did we learn from this and would we do it again?
Well, we know that 1,381 joined us at the events with a further 1,222 watching through live streams. Our social media significantly spiked during the Festival with #poweredbyphilanthropy trending during the Launch event. The evaluation was completed by 384 people and the results were extremely positive against the three aims of the Festival and a demonstratable impact was shown. The website recorded over 30,000 unique page views and media coverage spread across TV, radio, newspapers and online coverage.
But what about the longer term? We know that it will be difficult to measure future philanthropic acts as a direct result of the Festival but the key thing is we’ve started a conversation. We’ve looked to put philanthropy on the map. We’ve shown what’s gone before, demonstrated what’s happening now and looked to influence the future. The Festival legacy includes a dedicated website, hosting all of the 900 years of philanthropy, along with information on the GeNErosity Festival Philanthropy North East.
Would we do it again? Yes, although on a much smaller scale. From 5-7 November 2019 our #poweredbyphilanthropy Festival will focus on philanthropy’s role in tackling diversity and inclusion. We hope to see you there and help us start our journey into the next 900 years of philanthropy – book your free place here
This artickle was written by Sandra King, GeNErosity Festival Chair and Chief Philanthropy Officer.