The New Philanthropists
One of the more fascinating presentations came last evening from Irish writer Charles Handy, who is also a former Shell executive and the founder of the London Business School. A well-known author, radio personality, and bon vivant, Handy’s latest book with his wife Elizabeth is The New Pilanthropists – a study of mid-career donors, mainly in the UK – "stories of ordinary people doing interesting things, and of the issues they raise."
So who are these "new philanthropists?" According to Handy, they’re mainly in their 40s and still ambitious. They have a lot of energy and a strong interest in social change. They don’t want to give their money as usual, to build new university buildings and the like.
"And they are DIY freaks!" he said. "They are not prepared to write checks. They want to do it themselves….and they have the annoying tendency to go blundering into areas where they don’t know anything. Oh, they’re not terribly popular [with existing institutions] these new philanthropists."
Handy briefly profiled four British new philanthropists: a restauranteur who gave up profits to feed street people, an ex-football star and alcoholic who started a clinic, an executive who began his own microloan program in Malawi, and a mobile telephone tycoon who set up a hospital for breast cancer patients in Africa.
Handy said the growth of these "new philanthropists" mirrors the return of Britain’s entrepreneurial ethos, which he said had largely disappeared between the Victorian industrialists and the 1990s.