John Nickson

Special Advisor





John Nickson has worked in the public, private and not for profit sectors for fifty years and is one of Britain’s most experienced fundraising directors.  He was responsible for fundraising at The British Council, English National Opera, The Royal Academy of Arts and Tate. He also has experience as a donor, trustee, mentor and advisor to education, arts and development charities.

John Nickson is a campaigner for more philanthropy.  His first book, Giving is Good for You: why Britain should be bothered and give more, was published in 2013. His second book, Our Common Good: if the state provides less who will provide more? was published in 2017.

John Nickson was born in in 1947 in Lytham St Annes in Lancashire, educated at Giggleswick School, Yorkshire, and University College, London, where he read anthropology.

After six years working in the theatre as an actor and producer, John joined The British Council and became head of Information and Business Relations.  He joined English National Opera in 1989 as Director of Development and subsequently also became responsible for Communications.  In 1996, John became Director of Development and Director of the Royal Academy of Arts Trust. In 2005, he joined Tate as Director of the Tate Foundation with responsibility for all Tate’s fundraising.  Under his leadership, Tate raised more than £250 million to expand Tate Modern and transform Tate Britain and Tate St Ives. He retired from Tate in 2011.

John is an advisor and mentor and has worked with the Clore Leadership Programme, English National Ballet, Tate, Fuel, English Touring Opera, dreamthinkspeak , Halle Orchestra, Mansfield College at Oxford University, The Van Gogh Museum and The National Maritime Museum in Amsterdam, The Foundling Museum, The Orchestra of The Age of Enlightenment, The London Legacy Development Corporation and Greenhouse Sports amongst others.

John has served as a trustee of several charities, including the international board of United World Colleges and he chaired its first Development Committee. He was a governor of the United World College of the Atlantic and became a scholarship donor. He remains a member of Atlantic College’s Advisory Council. He has been a trustee of MANGO (management administration for non-governmental organisations) and of Opera Rara.

John is a member of the governing Council of the Royal College of Music where he has endowed a scholarship. He is an independent member of the UK Community Foundations Board and has created the Our Common Good Fund to support the work of Oxfordshire Community Foundation.  John is a trustee of the Beacon Collaborative Charitable Trust which campaigns for more philanthropy. He is a member of the board and development committee of London Music Masters, a charity providing professional music tuition to entire classes of primary school children in inner London.  He is also a Special Adviser to Philanthropy Company and an Ambassador for the Blackpool Pride of Place campaign.