Thursday 5 August 2010

Giving; a great example!

40 billionaires in the States have promised to give at least half their wealth to charity. The sums quoted in the media are mouth watering. $9m from Bloomberg for example. An incredible example.

Warren Buffet who has pledged all his wealth to charity, has spearheaded this new philanthropy drive.
It is a crying shame that in the UK the poor give a bigger proportion of their income to charity than the rich.

So how about a similar example set by billionaires in the UK? We have enough of them.

How about the British Bankers Association asking their members to ensure all those receiving bonuses are urged to follow the example of those in the States and give half to charity?

How about the CBI and Institute of Directors writing to their members in similar vein?

As cuts start to damage the fabric of our civil society we need the rich to consider their responsibilities to others. Buying a raffle ticket or the occasional cycle ride for charity is fine, but we need a stronger drive to philanthropy in the UK. And we need examples like we have just seen in the States.

Great to see that marvellous organisation, the Disasters Emergency Committee, led by ACEVO member Brendan Gormley, swinging into action to support the flood victims in Pakistan. A moving appeal on the BBC this morning. Let's all give generously. To go to the DEC Pakistan Floods Appeal click here.


JJ said...

High-achieving Americans tend to be alumni of elite educational insititutions, where their tuition and experience is heavily subsidised by alumni giving. They - in turn - expect and are expected to give back. Since 1980, the percantage of alumni giving has been an average of 57.8% ANNUALLY. Even including those hippy wasters at Brown, the Ivy League plus MIT and Stanford has average participation rates of over one third annually. High-achieving Americans are raised in a (quite specific) culture of giving.

So: what effect does this have on philanthropy in general? Third Sector organisations - if they want a piece of the pie - have to raise their games to compete. Above all, they have to offer a far more positive experience for philanthropists. Donors rightfully expect some say over where their money goes, as well as recognition; there is a variety of different areas on offer to which one can contribute. Donors have their names on things - a bit uncouth to us, perhaps, but you can always let donors choose to name buildings/places/scholarships something else. Hank Paulson (Goldman Sachs CEO and ferocious All-Eastern offensive tackle) endowed a coaching position named not after himself, but after his own much-admired head coach.

Perhaps the Third Sector might do likewise? All you seem to be saying is that THEY - some amorphous yet ultimately malign mass of greedy bankers etc - should give us their money, because they are presumably bad people in need of having their guilt expiated by the virtuous charity sector. Why not, rather, offer philanthropists something more positive for their money? Paying tax is a burdensome duty; giving to charity should be a worthwhile and fulfilling choice.

And the day someone tries to guilt trip me into giving is the day I buy a yacht.

JJ said...

Sorry, the 57.8% figure is for Princeton. (Surprisingly enough, it's those colleges with a reputation as Wall Street-feeders who have the most numerous and generous alumni donors - Princeton and Dartmouth).

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