16th May 2022

 

On 11th May 2022, Prism the Gift Fund (Prism) welcomed almost 200 people to Wellcome Collection in London, to host the inaugural Prism Conference, with the aim of hosting stimulating discussions around philanthropy. It was great to see so many familiar faces, including philanthropists and private client intermediaries. One of Prism’s goals is to reach  new audiences within the sector, getting them to consider embarking on a philanthropic journey, in the hopes of increasing the number of those giving significantly to the charity sector at a time when it’s arguably never been more needed.

Guests were welcomed by Dylan Samuel, Senior Relationship Manager at Lombard Odier, our headline sponsor and without whom yesterday would not have been possible.

Dylan introduced our first speaker, Stuart Roden, who delivered a dynamic session on how his wealth of experience spanning business and personal ventures has influenced his philanthropic journey. Sharing 12 key points and learnings throughout, he demonstrated the ways one might build their philanthropy strategy. For instance, assessing the many ways one might give and how to give well (perhaps choosing to focus on a specific cause area), how to engage with charities and why it’s so important to know and trust their Senior leadership team, considering forward-planning with the ability to still be flexible and say yes to new opportunities.  In parallel to a giving strategy, Stuart underpinned the significance of having the right team on board to ensure you are giving effectively. As a long-standing supporter of Prism, we are delighted that he recognised our service in his speech, and sharing that Prism is one of the only services he would recommend to his peers, having decided not to recommend builders, dentists or doctors!

‘Stuart’s 12’ paved the way for engaging discussions, and he set the tone for the event that followed.

Our first panel discussion, chaired by James Libson, Managing Parter at Mishcon de Reya LLP and Chair of Prism, explored the variety of ways to assess impact and output. James was joined by Sonal Shah (Greenwood Place), Amy Blackwell (Acorn Capital Advisers), Sarah Denselow (New Philanthropy Capital) and Dr Maximilian Martin (Lombard Odier). Each speaker brought a different perspective on how they help clients measure impact at different stages of their giving journey. Sonal and Sarah meet individuals and families who have embarked on their giving journey but could be at a crossroads in terms of where and how to give. They highlighted that whilst donors are keen to see the impact of their giving, we need to be conscious that this process should not be rushed. They suggested encouraging honest relationships with beneficiary charities, allowing them to deliver the work on the ground and giving them time to deliver long term results. Amy spoke of her work with families across multiple generations to connect their personal values and goals with their capital investments.  Amy fosters risk taking, and helps families to see the breadth of what can be achieved with philanthropy. We’d like to thank Max Martin for travelling from Geneva to join the discussion. Max creates partnerships globally, including Prism, to ensure his clients have the right tools at their disposal to make informed and impactful decisions with their giving strategies.

Penny Lovell took to the stage for the second discussion, with representatives from Lombard Odier, Mishcon de Reya LLP and BDO LLP. Penny led an engaging conversation which highlighted the necessity for private client advisers to initiate conversations around philanthropy with individuals and families. Alexander Rhodes (Mishcon de Reya LLP) helped to unpick some of the language around ESG (and shared insight as to why it’s not called GES!), and Dr Christopher Kaminker (Lombard Odier) guided us through the kinds of questions we should be asking clients when it comes to impact investing and how we should consider ESG data and tools to find some of the answers. Catherine Grum (BDO LLP) emphasised the power of directing clients to experts in the field, whether it’s to establish an appropriate structure for charitable giving or working with strategists to decipher which causes to support. The speakers underlined the role of private advisers to uncover what makes the clients (and donors!) tick by deepening relationships with clients to better understand what they want to do with their wealth.

Our final discussion was an invigorating conversation amongst inspiring philanthropists, each contributing their personal journeys into philanthropy.  Matthew Bowcock chaired and shared his own personal anecdotes on what led him to be the philanthropist he is today as well as the founder of Beacon Collaborative in the hopes to encourage more, better philanthropy amongst his peers.

 

Erica Wax founded Impact 100 London (a Collective Fund under the auspices of Prism) after learning that the average amount top-earners in Britain give to charities was far lower than it should be. Erica’s passion to support women and girls through Impact 100 London, and through her own philanthropy, has been incredible.  Her efforts in bringing philanthropists together to have a larger impact for a common cause has led to over 180 people joining Impact 100 London since its inception in March 2020, each contributing £1,000 per cycle.  In June, they will have raised over £475k and given grants to nine local charities supporting women and girls in London.  Well on the way towards their goal of £1m by 2025.  

Bill Holroyd was expelled from school but went on to have a hugely successful business career. Having met the milestones he had planned to reach in his professional and personal life, Bill looked to philanthropy as a means to give his life purpose. When Bill was introduced by chance to the Bolton Lads and Girls Club, he saw the huge demand for youth clubs in the UK and applied his knowledge and experience as an entrepreneur to start to meet that demand by establishing OnSide Youth Zones, which build and run state-of-the-art youth zones in the UKs most disadvantaged areas. Bill has committed his own time and philanthropic funding to ensure OnSide Youth Zones is the successful charity it is today.

Nicola Brentnall MVO did not have the easiest start in life, but as a result of the kindness of others, was able to take on every opportunity which presented itself to her. Nicola engaged the audience with her wealth of experience in the charity sector, in particular supporting youth led initiatives around the world. Nicola was Company Secretary at The Prince’s Trust, before taking on the role of Director at The Queen’s Trust. Having developed her expertise in senior leadership within the third sector, Nicola then became the founding CEO of The Queen’s Commonwealth Trust and is now working with Ajaz Ahmed and Sam Kelly on Ajaz.org, helping with philanthropy through grant-making, governance and communications advice and more. She says that some of the most generous philanthropists she has met in her career have been young people, social entrepreneurs and others, who give so much of themselves to help and support others around them who are going through tough times.  

Overall, Prism is incredibly proud to be a convener for philanthropists and private client advisers, creating a space for open discussion and sharing of ideas around philanthropy. Prism’s mission is to increase the flow of funds into the sector. We will continue to promote these meaningful conversations and act as an educator across the private client sector, to encourage dialogue around philanthropy in the hopes that more will start their journey and do so with an effective structure, a Donor Advised Fund and the right expertise.

We’re optimistic about the future of philanthropy and we look forward to seeing you again soon at more Prism events in the year ahead. 

 

 

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