Corporate foundations operate in many ways, with some working from general endowments to others relying on the profits of its corporate owner to decide its budget for the year. But could they be truly altruistic vehicles and were the schemes employed by these corporate foundations truly successful or recruitment pieces for the corporate organisations? These were all issues and questions which were highlighted at the incredible Rothschild Private Bank building for the Philanthropy Impact event about the relationship between corporates and their charitable foundations. Discussions ranged from issues with governance and decision making with the aim of understanding what key role charitable foundations can play in the future.
Chaired by and Elly Walsh, Head of UK Community Investment at Rothschild, the esteemed panel included Elly, Andy Wates: Chair of the Wates Foundation, Meera Shah Business Manager for the Shell Foundation, Nathaniel Peat a trustee at the EY Foundation and Abbie Rumbold a Partner at Bates Wells and Braithwaite. Elly started the evenings proceedings by giving an overall introduction into the history of Rothschild and Co and their long history of philanthropic giving.
She expanded on this by highlighting that Rothschild & Co’s focus is addressing educational inequality. By offering a combination of skills-based employee volunteering and strategic financial contribution they hope to achieve this by working in partnerships with charities, educational establishments and social enterprises which share similar goals. She finished by elaborating on their aims for the future, with the aim to engage in more professional volunteering that uses the organisations core skills and resources.
Following on from Elly was Nathaniel Peat who spoke about the way in which the EY Foundation hopes to battle the lack of opportunities for young people. They hope to do this by creating skills that will hold young people in good stead to be able to secure roles within the ever-competitive job market. The EY Foundation aimed to do this not through traditional grant giving as foundations often do but through their own projects and programs run by the foundation.
Meera Shah next spoke about the work The Shell Foundation was doing abroad in Africa and India and the way in which the foundation almost operated as its own organisation free of the CSR aims of the Shell organisation. They hoped to continue with their strategy of co-creating enterprises to deal with global issues on energy.
Andy Wates then spoke abut how the Wates Foundation was built up from family endowments over the years that allowed them to have any impact they wanted and always ensuring that Wates was a force for good. He expressed the view, to wide agreement, that corporates need to be continuously giving and the Wates Foundation saw their goals as over and above Wates general CSR commitments. He finished by detailing their plans for a ten-year journey to build on their current work with the aim of giving more opportunities to young people and helping to alleviate the issue of homelessness and housing shortages.
Finally, Abbie Rumbold finished by highlighting the recent BWB Foundation and the belief that commercial and charitable should always have a ‘marriage’ with one another to truly be able to have the most impact. She also noted the role that B Corp now has to play in being able to measure and audit this impact and allowing an organisation to show all the work that it is doing from a giving perspective.
Once the floor opened for discussions, questions were asked that were relevant to all forms of foundations and two particular questions stood out.
One asking why corporate foundations would run their own projects when funds could be granted out to organisations who have far more experience and another on whether a corporate foundation could be truly altruistic and not be a vehicle that serves the marketing, PR or recruitment aims of its Corporate owner. Response were wide ranging but what was clear when questions were finished was that corporate foundations did have a hugely important role going forward regarding philanthropic impact and ensuring that corporate money delivers social benefit.
This blog was prepared by Michael Blake, Philanthropy and Development Officer at the East End Community Foundation. The East End Community Foundation a unique philanthropy service provider tackling some of the most pressing needs in deprived East End communities. He works to make local giving simple for business and philanthropists by working together to create funds, build endowments and distribute grants to local community groups. Michael is passionate about the continued growth and development of the way we give within the philanthropy industry. He enjoys working with high net worth individuals, family donors and corporates to optimise their impact and understand the importance of effective philanthropic solutions and innovative ways of giving. He is deeply driven by the need to develop the areas of philanthropy which include Millennial Giving, Social Investment and Corporate Giving, which are all personal interests of his. His inspiration comes from organisations that do all three things very well and always has his ear to the ground for new and innovative ways of giving.