The UK remains, in relative terms, extremely affluent. Yet it is undeniable that the lives of many individuals and communities continue to be blighted by poverty, inequality and disadvantage. This is being exacerbated by cuts in public expenditure, resulting in the poorest being hardest hit. This is why charity and philanthropy need to be much stronger forces in our society and it’s why I welcome initiatives such as ‘Giving Tuesday’: an opportunity after the excesses of Black Friday and Cyber Monday to focus on others and help those who need it the most.
The focus of Giving Tuesday 2016 is about encouraging people to ‘do good stuff’. But I’d like to take a moment to recognise those that are already ‘doing good stuff’. They are the philanthropists that are quietly, in their own way, giving large sums of money away to good causes, and in doing so are making a significant impact on the world around them. Whether it’s lifting people out of poverty, helping disadvantaged people to get back into education, or building community relations, philanthropists can be incredibly powerful.
Look at Ben Drew. Most people know him as rapper and music producer Plan B. Ben is shaking up the education system with his charity ‘Each One, Teach One’, which supports projects that invest in kids with creative vocational skills such as hairdressing, video-production and music and drama. He’s using his philanthropic power to change young people’s lives.
And it’s people like Ben and the incredible work they do that we should be celebrating.
UK Community Foundations manages the Beacon Awards which recognises these philanthropists and the contribution they make. We use the awards to influence and inspire the philanthropists of the future. And we also use them as an opportunity to talk more about philanthropy. Why is it that those who give generously are expected to keep quiet about their generosity? If we spoke about them more, surely that would encourage others to follow in their footsteps? In the UK we significantly lag behind countries like the US and Canada when it comes to the amount we give. I don’t think that’s a sign that we are less generous –it is simply that it is not our culture to encourage people to give more and celebrate those that do.
So this year on Giving Tuesday, I’m encouraging you to talk about giving; and to nominate those that do for the 2017 Beacon Awards.
The Beacon Awards are looking for people whose achievements and lessons learned will help other philanthropists as they think about their giving. The amount of money they give is not, on its own, important. Beacon is looking for people who are using their resources to create lasting and systemic social change. We have a number of categories including local community philanthropy, innovation and sport.
If you know someone who can influence and inspire the philanthropists of the future, nominate them now!
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