Big Giver: Rod Aldridge, Aldridge Foundation

Rod Aldridge of the Aldridge Foundation tells our reporter Sophie Hudson how he likes to donate his skills, not just his cash, to the projects he works on

Rod Aldridge
Rod Aldridge

After 22 years working at Capita, the outsourcing company he founded, Rod Aldridge decided to set up a foundation that would change the lives of young people through entrepreneurship, in the way he feels his own life was changed.

"I'd already had experience of working with young people through the Prince's Trust for 15 years," he says. "And I wanted to create something that gave something back."

The Aldridge Foundation, which was established in 2006, focuses on opening academy schools in the UK, then helping to run them.

The foundation has already set up two such schools, with an investment of £4m between them.

Aldridge says that this money has released more than £100m from the Department of Education to help build and then run the schools.

He has secured government funding for two more academies that will be opened in the coming years - both of which he will help to run. Like the first two, the next two will specialise in entrepreneurship.

Aldridge, who is also chair of the youth volunteering project v, describes what he does through the foundation as venture philanthropy.

"I use my skills to generate more money," he says. "I like to get fully involved in projects. I don't only want to give money."

The foundation has also worked with other not-for-profit organisations, most notably the youth social project We Are What We Do. It recently match-funded one of WAWWD's programmes for training young people in communications.

Aldridge says that he is often approached by a variety of charities, but likes to work with organisations that are practical in their approaches to problems and are prepared to work closely with the foundation.

"A lot of charities don't like to be evaluated," he says. "They don't think long and hard enough about the people who are giving the money."

As a philanthropist with an entrepreneurial background, he says he is always looking for evidence of efficiency within the organisations he funds.

"Impact and measurement are very important with my philanthropy," Aldridge says.

"We like to set performance targets. With the academies, for example, we evaluate things like how many children from the academies get to university."

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