News & Insight

21st January 2020

Philanthropy Company – a new decade ahead

Caroline Underwood OBE, Philanthropy Company CEO, looks ahead to a new decade for fundraising and highlights some of the most exciting developments for the Philanthropy Company.

A full moon in January

I don’t know about you but January has already been a whirlwind. Is it the full moon or the beginning of a new decade or just working at the coalface of so many amazing organisations run by inspirational people?

Incredibly the Philanthropy Company is 18 this year! Although like all teenagers we look very different to our early years and even our pre-teen years. Perhaps two of the biggest changes are that we are now part of a network of over 70 talented fundraisers and people associated with fundraising from social media stars to major gift fundraisers and, in an important development, we now spend a lot of our time working on social purpose projects for businesses and strategic giving for philanthropists.

150 clients

I am immensely proud that we have worked with over 150 charitable bodies – from high profile established Universities such as the University of Oxford to brand new bodies such as NMiTE where a new way of teaching and learning about education and STEM has emerged. One client that has had a profound effect on our team is the extraordinary Deafinitely Theatre. As part of our work helping Deafinitely and its Trustees to grow major donor fundraising funded through a Catalyst grant, inspirational artistic director Paula Garfield, taught our team the basics of sign language and opened our eyes to the challenges faced by deaf people on a day to day basis, a lesson for life for sure.

During the last 12 months I have had the privilege of working at Chatsworth with the talented team to think about the potential for more charitable donations. I last visited in the autumn when the leaves were a myriad of oranges and browns in the extraordinary setting of the wonderful Capability Brown grounds. Back in the big smoke but still in the stimulating surrounds of a stately home, we have been working with Somerset House as they establish an extraordinary new creative community. If you have not been to Somerset House recently or think it is still somewhere that taxes are processed I urge you to explore! These are just two of the heritage/cultural campaigns that we have been involved with in the last few months where we have been able to apply our considerable experience in major capital campaigns.

The importance of investing in children

Our focus and commitment to children continues. Personally, I give a substantial amount of my time through volunteer board roles and this year had the honour of being made Vice Chair of Unicef UK – a huge privilege to work with the talented board of Trustees led by The Right Hon Douglas Alexander and the talented executive team.

There is nothing more important right now in a fragile world than securing the future for our children right around the world. I put time into this closer to home too through being a Governor at the Dragon School, Oxford. Just last weekend I gave a talk to probably the scariest audience of my life (even more alarming than giving a speech in the ballroom at Buckingham Palace during my time at Save the Children!) I spoke to 150 11 year olds about People that Change the World and how that could be any of us! Most of us in the Philanthropy Company team have additional roles as School Governors, JPs, Trustees, volunteers – and that ethos of giving back runs through our DNA.

As a company, we continue our commitment to children through working with the critical Childhood First, who provide residential care, education and therapy to children affected by abuse and neglect. Rebecca is currently working alongside colleagues from Blackbaud to embed a new database and fundraising system. We have also been working closely with the Roundhouse where I have learned so much about their focus on young people and pathways to the creative industries – many of us know the Roundhouse as a great place for extraordinary performances and gigs – but my colleague Paul and I have found it an absolute delight to learn about the creative learning opportunities in this passionate organisation. Last year we worked with Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance to establish a fundraising programme to support the extraordinarily talented youngsters they attract. Just walking into the School is an energising experience!

I must just mention our pride in working with the Cornwall Air Ambulance Trust, much of our work is with life-saving organisations (including hospital charities) but nowhere is it more immediate than when there is a ‘shout’ in Cornwall. Kate has been working with the determined and talented team there who literally save lives every day.

New frontiers

Our footprint internationally is also growing and we proud to work with PAST in South Africa and with a number of clients in New Zealand including the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

In another new development we now work extensively with sports organisations through our work with Sport England and in February will be rolling out an innovative training programme for sports organisations across the country led by our Associate Director, Andrew.

So many intriguing clients – we are hugely privileged to work with talented leaders on amazing projects and we are passionate about each of them!

The talent of our team is extraordinary too. We have the greatest breadth and depth in fundraising of any UK consultancies with talents ranging from major gift fundraising to board training to hands on data management to visioning to heritage expertise to fundraising coaching and beyond.

Philanthropy Advisory

And now in 2020 as we work towards our 20th birthday we are expanding our work with philanthropists and businesses as we focus more and more on the wider social purpose community.

We work with philanthropists to help realise their projects. We are delighted to be working with Andrew Barnes and Charlotte Lockhart as they build the movement behind the Four Day Week, as well as working closely with John Nickson to realise tangible outcomes from his thinking and writing crystallised in his book Our Common Good.

We work with Trustees and charity supporters thinking about their family giving and now offer an outsourced service to philanthropists and businesses wanting to form charities or deliver programmes. A major project along these lines will be announced in Spring this year.

Additionally, I am delighted to be part of the Ispahani Expert network, working with family office advisers from around the world.

Looking forward to 2020

So as we head into a new year, a new decade and a new era for Philanthropy Company there are exciting times ahead. If you are interested in talking to us about how we can help your organisation, to think through your giving or if you would like to join our talented team please do contact us!

“Philanthropy Company helped us think through our Revenue Fundraising Strategy, create a compelling case for support and research prospects. It gave us confidence that we were focusing in the right areas and helped us hone our skills in making the ask to donors.” Mary Rose Trust

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