Bella Franks is part of The Hoare family philanthropic dynasty which can trace its giving back more than three centuries and whose Golden Bottle Trust donated £1m to good causes last year. Bella has become interested in her own philanthropic cause - disability - inspired by the work of her grandmother Mary Hoare who founded and ran The Lady Hoare Trust for babies affected by the drug Thalidomide in the 60’s. Bella has now started her own millennial network The Contact Collective supporting Contact A Family for families who have disabled children. Bella is an artist and yoga teacher and runs life-drawing classes. Here she shares her thoughts on philanthropy...
What does philanthropy mean to you?
Philanthropy to me is about generous acts, however big or small, motivated by a desire to help others. I do not do anything extraordinary, but I try and do what I can in small ways and hope to one day be able to make a bigger difference.
How would you describe your philanthropy and what is your goal?
I have always been involved with charity work in one way or another - so for me a large part of it is getting involved with charities that inspire me through volunteering. A few years ago I volunteered in the fundraising team at Contact a Family, for families with disabled children, and was inspired to host my own fundraising events with friends. Through this, I began to build up a network of people who also wanted to get involved and in December 2014 I launched my Young Philanthropy Network: The Contact Collective - for us to do it together. My goal is to inspire others to become more active in charity engagement and to make philanthropy a more normal part of our lives.
What was your first experience of philanthropy?
I was inspired to volunteer for the charity Changing Faces after meeting James Partridge, the founder & Chief Executive of the charity, who suffered 40% burns to his body and face after a car crash in his teens. Despite his huge ordeal, he began the charity to help others which I found extremely inspiring, and so volunteered in the charity office after finishing my A level exams. This opened my eyes to some of the difficulties faced by disabled people in our society. I felt moved to get involved with trying to help in a more active way in the years after this.
Do you feel you are making a difference? If so how?
The charity Contact a Family wouldn’t have had the support from young people it is receiving today without such a wonderful group of people coming together to be part of my network - so this I am delighted about, although any difference that is made is a result of us as a collective. It is a small difference at the moment, but I hope that together we will be able to support more of the incredibly worthwhile projects run by the charity. For example, the ‘Hospitals & Hospices Project’ which places parent advisers into children’s hospitals across the UK to provide emotional and practical support to families when they need it most. With the funding it has received so far, the project is running in six hospitals. With the work of The Contact Collective, I hope we can provide more support for this project and watch it grow and affect more people’s lives. It is the stories we hear from the families supported by the charity that keep us constantly humbled and motivated to do what we can to support and raise awareness for the charity.
Has your philanthropy had an impact on your personal or professional life?
I was lucky to join my family’s philanthropy committee a few years ago, receiving a real insight into how to engage in philanthropy. I was inspired by the generosity of the group and loved learning about all the different ways of supporting good causes. I had not realised that I could take this interest to a professional level, and so I feel grateful that the work I was doing with The Contact Collective was acknowledged by wonderful people, allowing me to carve it out as my profession. On a personal level, I am motivated everyday to become less selfish and think of others. Of course, this isn't always easy - I am not a saint by any stretch of the imagination!
Of what are you most proud?
I would hesitate to say I am proud of my achievements at only 27 years of age! However, I am proud to have met and been influenced by such altruistic and selfless people. I am proud of The Contact Collective coming together without seeking personal gain, but for the simple interest of helping others.
Why is philanthropy important today?
Philanthropy has always been important. In the words of James Baldwin, “We are responsible for the world in which we find ourselves, if only because we are the only sentient force which can change it”.
What advice would you give to people starting out on their own journey?
Take a moment to think about what really inspires you and find a cause that connects to this. Never feel like you are obliged to be philanthropic, feel like you want to and notice the joys in this. Never feel like you are doing it on your own - talk about what projects inspire you and connect with others through it. Feel lucky that you can help others - in whatever way, big or small.
Contact Bella by email: firstname.lastname@example.org