Finding Focus in Family Giving

6th September by Jo Hastie

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Shropshire-based Harriet Horne is one half of a new company Art of Philanthropy helping high-net-worth individuals and families realise their philanthropic goals.

AAW’s Jo Hastie caught up with Harriet recently to chat about why she set up the company with colleague Nathalie Bristow and why they think there is a gap in the market for bespoke, philanthropic advice.

Harriet Horne picture

Harriet’s background is in academia and as a writer, but on moving back to Shropshire where she grew up, she began working for a family trust, researching and liaising with the charities they support, as well as joining the executive board of a hospital charity where she was a patient in the spinal injuries unit after an accident in India when she was 18. Harriet also retains strong links with the doctor who helped her in India supporting new medical projects and village community health projects.

As a trustee for a family charitable foundation, Harriet has built strong relationships and partnerships with local grassroots charities that, she says, can often be overlooked by larger donors. This has included a portfolio of regional arts charities that she identified and researched, for whom an injection of funds after the 2010 Austerity arts cuts made a huge difference to their work. The causes that the foundation supports have, over the last 20 years, “become the abiding passion of the founder’s life, often allowing him to develop genuine expertise in the areas he supports’’.

Harriet’s London-based partner Nathalie has a wealth of experience in the charity sector, currently as director of Development at the Lyric Theatre Hammersmith, as a trustee for a homeless charity and as a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.  The pair have known each other for years and wanted to combine their skills in fundraising and experience from the donor side of philanthropy to offer a unique service on charitable giving, research, advice and planning, essentially: “finding out what the donor’s interests are and saying to charities ‘we can help you’”.

Although the company works with individuals and small foundations, there is a particular focus on family offices as an area of philanthropy for which there is currently very little provision. Family offices are private wealth management advisory firms that service ultra-high net worth investors.

Such firms manage financial investments for families or groups of families offering investment, legal and tax advice, or as Harriet states “a whole network of people who can help you preserve and generate wealth.” Many of these companies do not have a philanthropic arm. Even in cases where they do – and similar to philanthropic services offered by banks - this tends to be focused purely on financial advice, for example the tax implications of setting up a foundation, and is less about developing a philanthropic vision with aims and objectives that match the interests and aspirations of the individuals and families they seek to support.

Harriet explains “What we want to do is offer a discrete, bespoke service matching individuals, families and foundations to charitable causes that they can invest time and money in, and enjoy the benefits of the relationship… There is a difference between charity – just giving a donation – and philanthropy, a kind of strategic giving, which measures impact and is an ongoing, two-way process”.

Having worked for different family trusts, Harriet has noticed that donations often tend to be made as a result of being approached by a friend or colleague. “There is often no overall strategy or vision, so things can be a bit ad-hoc. If you want to make a difference, you need a more strategic approach, so you can measure impact, evaluate whether a project or campaign has been successful and make adjustments to a funding strategy based on that evaluation.”

She continues “a lot of philanthropy advice, particularly with larger firms or wealth management offices, is based on data analytics and analyses of large charities with significant data. What we are offering is a much more personalised offering, based on a thorough knowledge of and ongoing relationship with the charities in question. It is a symbiotic relationship between donor and charity which intends to make the relationship on both sides more productive and fruitful.”

Between them, Harriet and Nathalie have built up a good network of contacts within family offices and organisations. Harriet believes this is a prescient and exciting time to set up the company, with many organisations reviewing their fundraising strategies after the pandemic, and “we can help people develop these strategies and suggest new charities to support, whether that’s in the UK or internationally”.

Other services include help with grant assessments and carrying out due diligence on charities and reviewing charity governance for organisations. Finally, the pair want to help educate the next generation who inherit their family wealth, ensuring they develop and continue the trust or founder’s philanthropic vision into the future.

For more information about the Art of Philanthropy visit Art of Philanthropy | Philanthropic Giving for Charitable Donors.