Focus: Finance and Governance - Trustee talk - Lord Parry Mitchell, Weizmann UK

I first became involved with Weizmann UK four years ago, when my father-in-law left the scientific research charity some money after his death. I became the chairman last year.

The institute is multi-disciplinary, so you get people with backgrounds in chemistry working together with astrophysicists. I like this, because I think there's too much specialisation in life - people working in different areas rarely talk to each other.

Although it's an academic organisation with somewhat lofty ideals, Weizmann UK has also been very good at inspiring young people to follow a career in science.

When we engage in fundraising or organise things such as coffee mornings, we don't on the whole go to the general population - it's not effective for us. Instead, we tend to go to the people who are more likely to give bigger donations.

We target people who we think will be sympathetic to our cause, and we encourage them to see a donation as an investment in the future. Giving money towards cancer research, for example, will benefit all of mankind.

We encourage our donors to see it as their legacy.

We used to get most of our funds from a small number of very wealthy families such as the Rothschilds. I felt that was a dangerous position, so I have been at the forefront of our new approach to fundraising, which basically involves widening the net.

I am also involved with the e-Learning Foundation, which I helped to establish. Our objective is to see every child in the country have access to a laptop. Fundamentally, I'm interested in anything that improves people's knowledge.

In terms of the future, I would like to improve awareness of our organisation in UK universities. I would also like us to become closer to countries in the Middle East in these difficult times.

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