Now That’s What I Call Philanthropy & Social Investment 4: best of the web 8/2/13

Well, it seems as thought these weekly pentads of interesting philanthro-social finance (nope- still not nailed that description) nuggets have found a reasonably appreciative audience, so I will keep doing my best to unearth five little gems each week.

If you come across any stories you think I have missed, then do let me know via this blog or on Twitter (@Rhodri_H_Davies). I’m always up for interesting philanthropy/social investment tales!

1) A bit of a charity fairytale from the US this week, in which a low-profile Washington D.C. millionaire who had given small amounts to a local charity during his life then left them $28m in his will. An object lesson in treating all supporters well, because you never know!

2) Allia, a UK social investment organisation, launched this week what may be the world’s first true retail social investment product. This will allow members of the public to invest indirectly in a Social Impact Bond that has been issued by Essex Council.

3) The news of a $50m donation by Billionaire Graham Tuckwell to the National University of Australia sparked an interesting public debate about the potentially distorting effect philanthropy can have on public spending.

4) A quartet of wealthy Indian donors announced that they would be funding a $6m “X prize”, aimed at rewarding innovative ideas for social change in India.

5) The “And finally…” story this week is this little tale about a US sci fi author who has taken a novel approach to turning a feud with an internet troll into a drive to give more to charity.

Rhodri Davies

Giving a good example

It was reported in many of the papers today that the leaders of all three main political parties have agreed to sign up to Roland Rudd’s “Legacy 10” campaign. This means that they have each pledged to leave 10% of their will to charity. The Legacy 10 initiative is closely linked to a new tax incentive due to come in in April, whereby anyone leaving 10% or more of their net estate to charity can benefit from a reduced rate of inheritance tax (36% rather than 40%), although the campaign is supposed to be broad enough to encompass even those who will be unaffected by the new measure.

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Leaving aside specific concerns about the new tax break (namely that it will only apply to a small number of estates, and it doesn’t seem to act as incentive for those who weren’t already intending to leave a charitable bequest), there is a definite positive aspect to this story. The fact that three senior political figures- who spend much of their time at each others’ throats- have put their differences to one side and presented a united front in favour of a charitable giving initiative is an interesting and potentially powerful precedent. There is a lot of talk in policy circles about the importance of role models and social norms, and of the government showing leadership, so it is good to see some practical action that fleshes out this talk.

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