Big Giver: Pears Foundation

Charles Keidan, director of the Pears Foundation, says its work is about having a sense of partnership with charities

Charles Keidan
Charles Keidan

Charles Keidan, director of the Pears Foundation, says a foundation's activities can extend a lot further than simply handing out money.

"Foundations are not only a source of funding; they are also a source of expertise," he says. "Funding and grants should be seen as just one of the tools to address an issue."

This is a central ethos of the Pears Foundation, which was set up in 1992 by the Pears family and describes itself as a "British family foundation rooted in Jewish values".

Keidan says the organisation has become a lot more active over the past eight years in its philanthropic work, increasing the number of staff over the period to its current total of 10.

It does not have an endowment, Keidan says, but is funded on an ongoing basis by the Pears family's investment business. Last year, it spent more than £7.5m on its philanthropic work, and Keidan says it will probably spend more this year.

He says that the group's executive chair, Trevor Pears, has a hands-on approach to the work of the foundation, and he describes him as a full-time chair.

"He takes an active role in the foundation every day" he says.

The foundation, which has objectives that include building respect and understanding between people of different backgrounds, identifies issues in society that it wants to help tackle and then does research into which organisations it should work with to best address the problem.

Keidan says that this can be a variety of organisations, such as mainstream charities and universities, as well as the government.

He describes the organisations that receive funding from the Pears foundation as "partners", and makes it clear that the foundation works with each of them in a strategic way, rather than simply providing them with money and then becoming detached once the cash has been given.

"It's about a newer, more complicated paradigm between foundations and the charity sector," he says. "There's more of a sense of partnership. They're both part of a conversation of how issues can be addressed."

Keidan says this is an emerging trend among many foundations. One of the ways that charities can make the most of it, he says, is by being more open to collaboration and allowing other staff members outside the fundraising department to work with the foundation.

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