Samuel Lush is a management consultant for KPMG UK advising private banks and wealth managers on a variety of strategic, operational and regulatory areas. Previously he worked at C. Hoare & Co. He also sits on the Advisory Board of the City Funding Network; a crowd funding network providing project funding to start-up charities.
What does philanthropy mean to you?
It’s incredibly difficult to explain what motivates ‘philanthropy’. Often it is a personal experience that drives an individual to take action and support a particular cause. I have had a very fortunate life and, so far, have experienced very few negative events. I feel blessed to have a healthy family, a great education and supportive friends. I believe that these opportunities should be open to all; which is why education, social equality and diversity and inclusion charities are the causes I am most keen to support.
Philanthropy is also an enabler – it encourages intellectual stimulation by meeting fascinating people from all walks of life; it helps you personally to develop a balanced world view, and ensures that the corporate world is aware of their underlying responsibility to society. I work in financial services and believe that corporate responsibility should be embedded in organisational culture to promote good behaviours, and to avoid individual mindsets becoming lost in the numbers.
How would you describe your philanthropy and what is your goal?
The charity sector needs to have ‘champions’ from business and government to progress effectively. All three sectors need to work together to reach the best outcomes. Therefore I suppose my goal is to help charities by raising awareness within the business world by looking for opportunities where businesses and charities can work together and use each other’s resources.
My philanthropy is opportunistic – it relies on matching a cause that I want to support and finding a charity that will benefit. I’m involved in The Funding Network; a crowd-funding charity which organises events for fledgling charities who are pursuing a variety of innovative causes. I love this model as it demonstrates the breadth of passion in the charity sector and successfully links start-up charities with prospective donors. The donors are able to offer their time and / or money to help take the charity to the next level.
What was your first experience of philanthropy?
My first experience of philanthropy was offering to organise a village hall charity quiz for my mother while she was fundraising for the British Heart Foundation. Never did I ever think she would take me up on the offer! She sold the tickets and I, with the help of an army of friends, booked the village hall, prepared the food and tended bar. We had over 100 people come along and it was a brilliant night. It taught me a lot about how much effort it takes to get people to give and how hard the events teams in charities work!
From this experience I realised that it is incredibly powerful when a group of people get together in support of one cause. And that giving is an enjoyable experience! Who doesn’t like a good pub quiz…?
Do you feel you are making a difference? If so how?
When I’m part of a group that is collectively engaged, I feel like progress on most causes can be made quickly. The Funding Network is a great model to satisfy the impatient millennials who demand instant gratification! Generally we raise £25k in six minutes, which is a good return on time invested! However, it is important to ensure that we regularly check in with the charities after the funding has been given to ensure their intended impact is being realised and offer ongoing assistance to help them stay on track.
What is the biggest challenge you have had to date?
My biggest challenge is trying to get charities to engage with volunteers in proactive and innovative ways. I used to run a giving syndicate where we struggled to find a charity that would offer us volunteering opportunities as well as take our regular donations. Charities need to start thinking innovatively and utilising human capital in order to maximise their potential.
Also, finding the time! It’s often difficult with the day job!
Of what are you most proud?
When I ran a giving syndicate at my previous employer, through the charity Sapere, we funded two years of training costs for three primary schools to achieve ‘Silver’ status in the P4C (Philosophy for Children) method of teaching. P4C focuses on open enquiry through constructive challenge and individualism. As well as being a teaching method, students take part in lessons where they debate life issues from a very young age, covering political, social and economic issues. There are no wrong answers and students are encouraged to build on each other’s’ ideas and offer contrasting views. This fosters an atmosphere of inclusivity and offers a level playing field for all students. Research from the Educational Endowment Fund found that P4C improved students’ reading and maths ages, with the biggest improvements seen from students eligible for free school meals.
Why is philanthropy important today?
Philanthropy has always been important. Its overall outcome has never changed; which is to make society a better place.
What advice would you give to people starting out on their own journey?
Find a cause that interests you. Then get involved! Enlist likeminded people who want to go on the journey with you. There are plenty of support groups, industry bodies, charities and societies where you can find people who share your values.
And finally, don’t spread yourself too thinly. Start off small and don’t overpromise. What might seem like a small request of you, might be a high priority in a charity’s agenda.