Hot issue: Prince Charles: 'the top charitable entrepreneur'?

The Prince of Wales starts his own charities as well as raising millions of pounds for others, and his private secretary Sir Michael Peat claims this makes Charles 'the greatest charitable entrepreneur in the world'.

NO - David Philpott, chief executive, Kent Air Ambulance Trust

Well done, Sir Michael Peat, for flying this particular kite for the prince - it is only right that his humanitarian activities be highlighted in this way to offset the royal tittle-tattle all too often reported in the redtops. But the "greatest"? Surely not.

I learnt in Sunday School the story of the widow's mite, the central point of which is that generosity is not measured by how much you give but how much you give out of what you have (Mark 12:41-44). If it is true, as Sir Michael suggests, that Prince Charles gives £2.5m of his £13m annual income to charity, at 19.2 per cent that undoubtedly makes him a much more generous man than I, although I daresay he does not have my direct debits and mortgage to pay.

He is not, however, nearly as generous as so many Africans who I have had the privilege of knowing in Tanzania, who have set up schools, clinics, soup kitchens and the like out of their meagre incomes of a few dollars a week and transformed their communities through personal sacrifices that neither myself nor the prince are ever likely to be called upon to make.

YES - Charlotte di Vita, founder, Trade plus Aid; director, 21st Century Leaders

I wanted to organise a conference on a rainforest conservation programme. Being 24, blonde and blue-eyed, nobody really took me seriously, so I wrote a letter to the prince telling him so and requesting his support.

Not only did I get a letter back telling me to get in touch with the British Embassy in Brazil, but the prince said that he would personally come out to the conference and be our patron.

Three weeks before the conference, he broke his arm playing polo and could not attend, but his association with the project had already given us the press coverage and opened all the doors we needed.

My letter was not just passed on to one of his representatives - instead, it was discussed, measured and decided upon that he would participate, which is not something you would expect someone in his position to do.

Through the Prince's Trust he has helped hundreds of young people set up their own businesses, and it is for things like this that he does not get enough credit.

It is fashionable not to give him credit, but if he were an everyday person he would be considered unique; what he has given 24/7 for so long is amazing.

NO - Christine Jenkins, managing director, Corporate and Community Works

At risk of being labelled a cynic, I do wonder why Prince Charles has allowed such a grandiose title as 'the world's greatest charitable entrepreneur' to be used in conjunction with charitable activities.

No charitable humility for Charles; not,'a great charitable entrepreneur' or even 'one of the world's greatest'.

Most definitions of entrepreneurs include 'taking risks', and this is where I take particular issue with the claim. Dr Thomas Barnardo and John Bird, truly great charitable entrepreneurs, took risks. Working with highly unfashionable causes and without the second-to-none network, personal finances or clout of HRH, they both took great personal or financial risks in setting up Barnardo's and Big Issue.

Prince Charles took few risks in 'setting up' his charities and, once they were established, did not sweat long and challenging hours ensuring that there were sufficient funds to sustain his visions.

Nor do most entrepreneurs have access to crack teams of senior directors from the word go.

Prince Charles is a wealthy philanthropist who leverages financial and other support through the use of his name for good causes, not 'the world's greatest charitable entrepreneur'.

YES - Hilary Browne-Wilkinson, chair, Institute for Philanthropy

HRH The Prince of Wales is a fantastic entrepreneur because he thinks of imaginative ways to help make our world and society a better place.

He gathers support for his ideas and encourages the development of an organisation to take them forward.

He is very aware of the need to fund these activities and, in a most effective way, he persuades others to help with the funding as well as putting in money himself.

Whether he is the top charitable entrepreneur I do not know, but he is certainly a remarkable one.

Others may give more money or more time, but no one I can think of gives so much of the combination of time, money, thought and influence. He uses all his advantages to help others.

Winston Churchill said: "We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give." Through giving, the Prince of Wales has made a life for himself and thousands of others that will ensure he is looked back on as a great charitable entrepreneur.

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