Journeys in philanthropy - why it’s good to talk

Those that embark on the philanthropic journey often do so with passion, enthusiasm and above all ambition: no wonder then that at its best, world-wide philanthropy has now become a frontier and incubator of creativity and innovation; helping to drive systemic change, nurturing economic development and scaling up giving.

Both research and anecdotal evidence confirm that the ambition of most philanthropists is to make a significant and positive impact with, and put their own stamp on their philanthropy: that these two ambitions may be mutually exclusive may not be realised until well into an individual’s journey.  

Having the ability to separate the intellectual and emotional drivers at work can be critical to success for major, ambitious philanthropists. This involves asking the right questions at the beginning, and throughout the journey; seeking answers and collaborating with others already actively engaged in philanthropic ventures.  Sharing experiences and learning together with other successful philanthropists is a hugely helpful part of the process. It can enable and secure creative solutions, reassurance and support from fellow funders, and significantly improve your chances of changing the world, your region, or your own backyard. 

For these reasons, C&E Advisory periodically brings together philanthropists at varying stages of their journeys to explore some of the challenges and opportunities they face. Structured as informal but focused breakfast sessions, participants engage in moderated discussions, exploring several different examples of philanthropic approaches and models. For those attending, the Dialogue sessions may also present future opportunities for collaborative working.

In addition to generating important insights on the concerns of philanthropists, participants leave feeling reassured, and/or challenged and inspired, with the possibility of a support network of fellow funders to call on for support going forward. As another example, in 2014, the Stars Foundation initiated The Philanthropreneurship Forum ( ). This new annual forum now affords philanthropists an opportunity to explore the dynamics of creative philanthropy, and how its practice can catalyse entrepreneurialism, innovation and cross-sector collaboration to make gains in the fight against global challenges.

Kerry Orr

Researcher on cross-sector collaboration and high-impact philanthropy