Dr Frederick Mulder

Fred's philanthropic interests have been a part of his entire life. He recalls that "coming from a religious background, giving was a part of my childhood".

Dr Frederick Mulder

Personal story

A Canadian citizen, Frederick Mulder moved to the UK in 1968 to finish his doctoral studies in Philosophy at Oxford. Although his intention was to return to Canada to teach, he instead stayed on in London and started a business dealing in original prints from the 15th to the 20th centuries. The business went well, but, explained Fred, "while I loved the business, I was also aware that the world had many injustices, and I developed the habit of tithing to projects that addressed those issues." Fred has used much of his income as an art dealer for the good of others, giving to charity in a range of unusual ways and persuading other rich individuals to give their money to charity and to enjoy it.

Fred's philanthropic interests have been a part of his entire life. He recalls that "coming from a religious background, giving was part of my childhood. I used to have 'businesses' as a kid and donated part of the proceeds to the church." Later, as the success of his business afforded him "reasonable" wealth, he became more engaged in his giving. He focuses his efforts on what he calls 'social change philanthropy' - investing in causes which will benefit future generations.

As Fred became more involved in philanthropy, he felt motivated to bring his peers into it. He saw that, although there were many generous people in the art world, few were giving to projects addressing the kinds of issues he was concerned about, particularly abroad. With this in mind, Fred was involved in the formation of two organisations that leverage philanthropy: The Network for Social Change (NSC), the first giving circle of its kind in the UK, and The Funding Network, an organisation open to all for the support of social change and of which he is the founding Chair. Fred remarked, "Fortunately, I got involved with a group of like-minded people, with whom I learned how much more interesting it was to have a peer group of givers to talk things over with, and how much further my limited funds went when pooled with those of other people."

"Using my profits to help fund what I believe in is immensely satisfying."

He added, "Giving money is one of the few things people do alone. We work together, eat together, dance together, and I've discovered that giving with others is more interesting, more satisfying, and probably more competent, if it is done in the company of other people. The money also seems to go further! That's why I've helped to set up structures in which people can give together and learn from each other."

He has leveraged significant funds through imaginative risk-taking, creative business deals and initiatives to encourage others to become philanthropic themselves. He has often used his entrepreneurial skills to resolve deadlocked business transactions by offering to give a charity, with the client, the difference between his price and that which the client was offering to pay. This experience has "involved people in philanthropy who were not engaged before". He has also expanded this idea with his own private collection of art by giving, not selling, a work of art to a client and then asking the client to give away its value in return.

Fred has always been inventive with his money. After a Greenpeace ship, the Rainbow Warrior, was sunk in Auckland Harbour, Fred suggested that they use advertising as a means of attracting new members. He took the risk of underwriting the advertising campaign, which he insisted be placed on the front pages of newspapers alongside news about Greenpeace. The ads were extremely successful, and Fred has since helped others, such as the Anti-Apartheid movement, fund similar campaigns.

Fred has turned giving into a personal experience: "I love dealing with works of art, but if I weren't an art dealer I'd want to be working with social justice issues. Using my profits to help fund what I believe in is immensely satisfying."

(from A Guide to Giving, 2nd edition, 2005)

This personal story is tagged under

  • Giving networks / circles