Coutts & Co hosted a Forum on philanthropy – Venturing into Venture Philanthropy at its Strand office on 19th May 2011, at which James Caan was the keynote speaker. The event covered the growing trend of ‘Venture Philanthropy’ which applies the principles of venture capital to philanthropy, where a strong package of financial support is backed by targeted expertise and a focus on measurable impact and results.
James Caan founded Hamilton Bradshaw, a private equity firm which specialises combining commercial expertise with funding to grow and scale businesses and mirrors this approach in his own philanthropic activities, both with external organisations and through the James Caan Foundation.
He said: “I prefer a very hands-on approach to my charitable work. I believe donors get more out of philanthropy by getting out of their comfort zones and going to see what needs to be done. I travel to the regions where the charities I support are operating to see what is happening on the ground and where the donations are being spent. This kind of work makes the greatest difference all round. Many charities don’t see themselves as businesses and are generally not set up by business people. Their drivers and measurable targets are different and I believe this is an area which needs to adapt especially with all the public spending cuts. I spend time going into charities to look at them as a business and provide my expertise on improvements that can be made to deliver better results.”
The Forum gave participants the opportunity to learn about this approach to philanthropy, including its characteristics, benefits and challenges through the keynote presentations, practical workshops and informal discussions with other philanthropists.
Discussion panellists included Daniela Barone Soares and Harvey Koh who shared their experiences and expertise. Daniela Barone Soares is Chief Executive of The Impetus Trust, the UK’s pioneer in venture philanthropy and Harvey Koh has overall responsibility for Private Equity Foundation’s charity investment portfolio and new investment process and has experience of developing venture philanthropy models.
Maya Prabhu, Head of UK Philanthropy at Coutts commented: “Whether just starting out or somewhere down the road in your philanthropy journey, meeting other donors is a great source of inspiration and information. This Forum provided an opportunity to share experiences, lessons learnt and insights on making a bigger difference. It showed an alternative way of becoming more directly involved in charitable giving and philanthropic activity, by combining giving money with donating time and expertise and agreeing measurable results.”