Philanthropy means etymologically, the love of humanity, in the sense of caring, nourishing, developing, and enhancing what it means to be human. In the context of the commercial world in which we live this is manifested essentially in one of two ways - time or money.
Having attended an inspirational dinner hosted by Clare Stirzaker and Sian Steel of PwC in London yesterday, where the theme was Family Business Philanthropy and the Next Generation, the debate was plentiful and it is clear that there are three competing agendas that come to the fore when considering philanthropy, the personal, the family and the broader business.
Everyone is on their own journey, and any level of giving should be recognised for what it is, the desire to make a difference. Personally, that may invoke personal loss, concern over the welfare of animals or the environment or the desire to make a difference locally. On a family level there may be an association with a particular cause due to an event or passion and for the business agenda further considerations due to the greater number of stakeholders in the decision.
Philanthropy, and as a word one that I personally detest (but what other word is there?) tends to be used in the context of HNW individuals and donations from large foundations and these are the acts that tend to make the headlines. Family businesses, even those that have created a foundation for their activities, may not want it in the public domain, and those that do are often not looking for media/PR and accolades, but simply following their desire to make a difference.
Listening to great speakers and the next generation family members around the table was inspiring, at times emotional, but most of all a pleasure. Family businesses make a global difference through their acts of generosity supporting a multitude of great causes and this deserves to be celebrated, and above all appreciation.
There are lots of good causes to choose from and complacency over donors should never come to the fore. Every penny and every minute should count the same.
It was an honour and a pleasure to be amongst such great company.