News & Insight
26th June 2020
The Joy of Connecting with Expat Communities
Louise Parkin, International Consultant at Philanthropy Company, shares insight into the joy of connecting with expat communities
Every year, for generations, young people from around the world have made their way across the world to live, work and study in the UK dreaming of adventure. Most only stay for the two years of their working holiday visa, but some never go back. The bonds they forged here are too strong and they suddenly realise that 25 years has passed while they fell in love in a crowded pub, applied for citizenship, dragged their children around London Zoo, and bled the radiators in their partially renovated house. They miss their families and get back every few years, but their lives are here now.
Having said that, as they get older the nostalgia these expats feel for aspects of their former life often grows. Whether it is the school where they were awarded an academic scholarship that launched their now high-flying career, or the gallery where they fell in love with their favourite artist, hearts and minds are called home.
At the Philanthropy Company, we have the great privilege of connecting with some of these expat communities on behalf of charitable entities in their home countries all over the world. As someone who came to London for two years and stayed for ten, I know the joy of having an expat cohort to be a part of. There is something deeply comforting about attending an event with those raised within your culture when you are living abroad.
Our clients include schools, universities, scientific research institutes and arts and heritage organisations. Each one of them unique in their activities in the UK from friend-raising to fundraising and beyond. And I can say that the investment is truly worth it.
Let me tell you about George. A qualified doctor, he moved to London 50 years ago specialising in neuroscience and practicing in Harley Street. George was a stalwart of the UK-based alumni group for his old school back in New Zealand attending almost every event. As a student, George played hockey and was a member of the Film Society. He loved the school and relished the opportunity to get together with Old Boys of all ages.
Last month, George sadly passed away peacefully at home aged 86. I had a call out of the blue from the executor of his will to say he had bequeathed his favourite painting to the school art collection. The collection manager is thrilled to have received this artwork by a renowned New Zealand artist that was so special to George. I can see him sitting in his living room gazing at the painting and being transported home, comforted by his memories on one of those grey February days in London. George never returned to New Zealand but the painting will – destined to be enjoyed by a new generation of students who might just come to these shores and stay a while.
If your institution is considering developing alumni or supporter activities in the UK or Europe, get in touch with us about assisting with the set-up or providing the ongoing support that is necessary to deliver a range of benefits to your organisation’s mission. More information can be found on our website here: https://philanthropycompany.com/clients-case-studies/ or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org