Private funders 'best placed' to support early interventions

Research commissioned by Barclays Wealth says philanthropists and corporate funders can take risks on early intervention initiatives that government will not support

Emma Turner, director of client philanthropy at Barclays Wealth
Emma Turner, director of client philanthropy at Barclays Wealth

Private funders are better placed than government to support early intervention work to tackle some of society’s most costly problems, according to new research.

Early Interventions: An Economic Approach to Charitable Giving, which was commissioned by Barclays Wealth and produced by the think tank New Philanthropy Capital, analyses the areas donors should give to in order to make their gifts the most economically effective.

It is aimed at private funders, including philanthropists, family foundations and corporate funders.

It identifies some of the most costly social problems in the UK, which include families with multiple needs such as substance abuse, children with behavioural problems and employment difficulties due to mental health problems. It says these issues are costing society around £100bn every year.

The report suggests interventions in these areas that could create significant savings for society and says that private funders are best placed to help because they can take more risks than government.  

"Private funders have a unique opportunity to fund initiatives that the government currently cannot: innovative, early stage projects and preventative approaches," it says. "There remains an overwhelming bias in favour of late intervention and only responding to expensive problems when they reach a point of crisis. We know that this is expensive and long-term success is limited."

It says the effectiveness of early intervention work needs to be proved in order for the government to start allocating resources to this work, and that this could be done through private funding.

Emma Turner, director of client philanthropy at Barclays Wealth, said there was a growing group of funders who understood that responding to social problems once they reached crisis point had limited success.

"This group of funders is willing to take risks on new philanthropic initiatives that address the root cause of problems, rather than just the visible symptoms," she said. "We need to provide powerful reasons for why they should invest in these interventions and what they can achieve by doing so."

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