Zoë Keens, director of Birmingham and Black Country Community Foundation, looks at philanthropy
Charity is not the same as philanthropy – and it is time for change. Simply argued, philanthropy moves donors from transactional giving to a greater engagement with the causes they are funding.
In the UK charitable giving is high on the agenda. We see it locally, and recently through the amazing response to this year’s Red Nose Day – more than £74 million raised so far for Comic Relief. This money will make a real impact on people right here in the UK, for example the Community Foundation is working with the Birmingham Mail to help Comic Relief deliver highly valuable small grants to our communities in Birmingham and the Black Country.
But alongside this vital support what our local community and voluntary groups need is long-term sustainable funding and practical help. How can we benefit people now and into the future? How can we become philanthropists?
We have a rich history of local philanthropists in our region, men and women who had, and continue to have, an impact on our area like the Cadbury family. However, you may have heard of:
* John Feeney (1839-1907), a prominent Birmingham citizen, best known as the founder of the Birmingham Daily Mail. In his will he directed the creation of a dedicated grant making charitable trust, the Feeney Trust, which has a long history of assisting worthwhile local causes especially in the arts, heritage and open spaces.
* Sir Josiah Mason (1795-1881), a pen manufacturer from Erdington, had a disadvantaged start to life and was passionate about the alleviation of poverty through housing, education and training. He gave an endowment of £250,000 to benefit the people of Birmingham City and Solihull. His charitable trusts are still making grants to the tune of £1.9 million each year. That is sustainable giving!
A new wave of philanthropists are emerging and engaging with the Community Foundation. We are working with the 21st century philanthropists who require advice, strategic thinking, education and tailor-made strategies for their giving. Like philanthropists of the past they want to engage with the communities, be pro-active, see the impact, build relationships and take advantage of opportunities.