16th June 2015Alistair Lomax
Tilting the right way and redressing the balance.
What a great thing for CASE Europe to invite a major donor to talk to a room full of academics and fundraisers in its Seminar for deans and Senior Academics, sponsored by the Philanthropy Company. Dr Rory Brooks CBE is the founder of an investment firm, MML capital. He and his wife, Elizabeth, have funded the Brooks World Poverty Institute at the University of Manchester.
Rory shared reflections on philanthropy in Higher Education gleaned from a round table that he had convened with other major donors.
He cited six reasons for giving to HE:
- Giving enhances social capital – it makes you look and feel good.
- People wanted to show their appreciation to their Alma Mater – giving was a way of showing appreciation
- Giving to a university gave access to academics who were doing interesting and exciting things. Being close to this brought a sense of stimulation.
- The inspiration and confidence given to donors by leadership was important to everyone. They needed to know that things were on a great trajectory and that their gift would allow the university to move forward on that track. They appreciated the access given to them by leadership as donors.
- The cause needs to deliver improvements that are transformational; game changing; things that the institution could not do without the gift.
- Leverage: they were excited by the potential to gain leverage; that their gift could stimulate other gifts; that the benefits could be felt across many areas.
Rory talked about the simple things that needed to be in place to make it a joyful experience. He suggested that there needed to be more of a sense of celebration. He and Elizabeth give together. For Rory it is an important and enriching part of family life.
How enlightened to invite a donor to speak to a room full of academics in this way.
Rory talked about the ‘dinner table test’. How does your giving fare when it comes to this test?
- Not really wanting to talk about it. Maybe worth a passing mention, but it’s private. This is the cold and disengaged response.
- Want to talk and to tell people about the gift in a way that is calm and measured. This is the most normal response.
- Talk about the gift with great pride and a sense of celebration.
If only there were more people like Rory and Elizabeth. For them, giving to poverty research is part of having a social conscience. ‘The world is tilted unfairly and we should all help those at the wrong end of the tilt.’