“Wouldn’t you rather your donations achieve a lot rather than a little? Then you’ll need to get serious and proactive. If you do it wrong, you can easily waste your entire donation.”
Caroline Fiennes is not one to pull her punches when talking about charitable giving, but the more I talk to her, or read her new book – ‘It Ain’t What You Give It’s The Way That You Give It’ – the more it becomes apparent that her philosophy is not all that different from that of a professional fund manager.
No self-respecting fund manager would invest in a company just because they were asked to. A fund manager will choose to invest (or disinvest) because they believe it will help their fund perform well and that the investment fits within their investment objectives. Fiennes, who advises companies and individuals on their giving, advocates a similar approach for any donor: be clear about your objective and find organisations that have done a good job of achieving this, not just the ones that market themselves well.
This is just the start. As James Caan, entrepreneur and philanthropist, puts it, “Finding, investing and supporting good businesses is hard, but identifying, donating and supporting great charities poses the same challenges.” This is all the more apt as Caan has also been the chairman of a fund manager, Insynergy Investment Management.
This is not to say that giving and fund management are natural bedfellows. A collaborative exercise between several fund groups created the Invest & Give fund, but sadly it did not generate significant investment and was eventually closed. Lipper data reveals that socially responsible investment (SRI) equity mutual funds in Europe have healthy assets of just over 50 billion euros, but this still accounts for less than 3 percent of the equity fund universe (1.8 trillion euros).