Funding story: The Polden-Puckham Charitable Foundation

With its Quaker heritage, the grant-maker is committed to funding original peace and environmental projects.

There's a lot of interest in 'new philanthropists' at the moment. Yet the old philanthropy of the Quaker tradition remains - and not just courtesy of major foundations such as Joseph Rowntree. The Polden-Puckham Charitable Foundation was set up relatively recently, in 1991, but its origins lie in two older family trusts. It now awards grants (usually worth between £3,000 and £10,000) "to help promote new ideas in peace, security, conflict resolution and environmental sustainability, and to engender values that foster harmony and respect between people and planet".

Trustee Bevis Gillett agrees that there is "some Quaker tradition" underpinning the present-day trust, but adds: "There are also other values. A lot of it comes down to my brother, David, who very sadly died in 1994. He just anticipated the issues; he was onto the green agenda 10 years ago, and very much pushed forward our environmental agenda."

The beneficiaries of that agenda include the Norwich-based environmental charity, the Greenhouse Trust, which produced, among other things, a parliamentary briefing refuting the argument that nuclear power is an effective solution to climate change.

The Quaker tradition is more directly evident in the funding of bodies working on peace and conflict resolution. (The Gillett brothers were taken on the Aldermaston marches by their father, Nicholas, who is now 92 but, his son says, "much more radical than a lot of younger people".)

Carolyn Hayman is chief executive of conflict-resolution charity Peace Direct, another of Polden-Puckham's beneficiaries. She says: "The grant went to a project exploring how things could have gone differently in Fallujah, Iraq, if things had been done in a non-violent manner. Very few people are funding this kind of work."

Gillett says the trust is committed to funding quite edgy work that doesn't have to be overly precise about its plans. "We just have an instinctive feeling that these are the right things to support," he says. "So many grant-makers are preoccupied with measuring outcomes, and that means they simply aren't going to fund the things we do. We want applications that are dealing with critical issues, and people who are looking at things a bit further upstream."

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