Big Giver: Peter Cullum, Towergate Charitable Foundation

He tells Sophie Hudson he wanted to run "an organisation with soul" that involves staff and customers in giving

Peter Cullum
Peter Cullum

Peter Cullum, founder and chair of Towergate Insurance, says he has a book to thank for inspiring him to set up a foundation that has so far raised more than £4m for charity.

"I read Brand Spirit five or six years ago," he says. "It talks about being able to work with your customers and staff to generate significant funding for charities.

"I decided I wanted to run an organisation that had a soul and involved staff and customers in giving back to good causes."

The Towergate Charitable Foundation was the result of this decision.

The foundation has a number of charity partners for which it raises money. Staff help to choose the charities, which currently include Cancer Research UK, Help the Hospices and several military charities. The partner charities are reviewed every three years.

Because Towergate Insurance has more than 100 offices in the UK, getting as many people as possible involved in fundraising takes a lot of organisation.

"In each of our offices we have a charities champion who is in charge of organising fundraising events," says Cullum.

Towergate also gets its customers involved in fundraising. People who take out personal cover are always given the option on their invoices of making a £3 donation.

"About 70 per cent of people make that donation," says Cullum. "It used to be in the 80s but it has dropped a bit since the recession."

Cullum also has his own charitable foundation, the Cullum Family Charitable Trust, and this is run by his two daughters.

He has put £22m of his own money into the trust and says he wants it to be self-perpetuating, so that the money invested will fund charities for many years to come.

His daughters make most of the decisions about which organisations benefit from the trust, which have included a number of children's charities and local groups in Sussex.

Cullum says he does not have a strict checklist about what he looks for in a charity before deciding to support it, explaining that he is often influenced by the kind of people who work for the charity.

"We're not robotic about this," he says. "It's often about the cause and the difference we believe that a donation could make to that particular charity."

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