[Chris Carnie is founder of Factary, Europe’s only consultancy focused on strategic funders — major donors, foundations, companies and government. It operates from bases in Spain, Belgium and the U.K. At the 27th International Fundraising Congress, which took place in the Netherlands last week, Chris and colleague Martine Godefroid presented a session titled Major Donors — The Personal View. Here, he presents a synopsis of that session.]
It’s hard to start a major-donor program if you don’t know what a major donor looks like.
That’s why we invited a philanthropist and an advisor to philanthropic families to give us their personal views at last week’s International Fundraising Congress in the Netherlands. Our objective was to bring together fundraisers and donors so that each could learn from the other — an objective accomplished, to judge by the comments of both parties.
Our advisor started his career in investments and trading, first as a commodity trader and later as head of sales and managing director of the largest Dutch commodity brokerage company in the late 1980s. He now is a philanthropic advisor to families and foundations, and currently on the board of four foundations, including a donor-advised fund, a development cooperation foundation and a microfinance initiative.
We asked him to talk to us about the kinds of people who become philanthropists in Europe. His view is that the emergence of new wealth in Europe is helping to create new philanthropists, but that also there is a shift in opinion, with philanthropy becoming something that some people, particularly younger people, can talk about. Older families, particularly in Holland, tend to be very modest about their philanthropy — to the point that one of the foundations he manages is completely anonymous, with the founder invisible even to those who work there.
By contrast, he was concerned about transparency and accountability with nonprofits. Despite the existence of fundraising control bodies such as the Dutch Centraal Bureau Fondsenwerving (www.cbf.nl), the Central Office for Fundraising, he wanted to see more and better information on nonprofit finance.