Talk business, 'you'll raise cash'

Billionaire philanthropist Tom Hunter told charities last week that they were more likely to find wealthy donors if they appealed to their competitive streaks.

Tom Hunter
Tom Hunter

Addressing delegates at fundraising consultancy Action Planning's Raising Funds From the Rich conference, Hunter said: "Nowadays, we don't just sign the cheque and hope for the best. We're competitive by nature, and if you can offer something that is truly compelling by way of a solution to a major issue, it's very likely you'll find a funder.

"I always say tailor your propo sals to the people you are pitching to in their language, and the language of rich philanthropists is the language of business."

He recommended that charities should approach potential philanthropists with business plans, which should define targets and say when they would be hit. He said plans should be clear, precise, to the point and free of jargon.

"We're busy people," he said. "Present your proposal in no more than two pages, but add your fully worked out and costed business plan to deliver what you are saying you can deliver."

He said philanthropists liked engagement - they also liked to play a part in defining solutions and in supporting charities.

They also often wanted to be actively involved on charity boards, Hunter added. "We play the part of the critical friend to the chief executive, and we're generally there to mould and develop a winning strategy," he said.

Hunter, who has pledged to give £1bn to his own charitable foundation, the Hunter Foundation, advised charities to pitch schemes that had exit strategies.

"The philanthropist seeks to get in and out as effectively as possible in order to deliver the solutions and then move on to the next challenge," he said.

Delegates heard that the richest philanthropists gave away 165 per cent more in 2007 than in 2006 and are spending their wealth in three main areas.

The Sunday Times Giving Index, which measures the charitable donations of the top 30 donors each year, soared to £1.2bn in 2007, up from £453m in 2006.

Philanthropists have given in particular to environmental causes, budding entrepreneurs and education, although more traditional activities such as supporting cancer research, homeless charities, medical research generally and immediate responses to natural disasters still occupy the ultra-rich on a daily basis.


- London-based Swedish entrepreneur Johan Eliasch is spending £20m to preserve Amazon rainforest.

- Yorkshire property tycoon Paul Sykes is spending £500m plus on greening his native county.

- Publisher Felix Dennis is channelling £120m into extending the Forest of Dennis in the midlands.

- Food tycoon Sir Paul Judge set up Cambridge's Judge Business School with an £8m donation.

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