I recently attended a conference, with two of my colleagues in the charitable world, in the hope of helping us build a stronger philanthropic organisation. We weren't sure what we were in for, and frankly had some doubts about the subject matter being covered and whether we'd actually learn anything new. As the conference was only for women, we also had fears about it being a bit "fluffy" and "rah-rah", promoting friendship over finance.
Well, I have to say that after the first session, we were floored and our fears were allayed. By the end of the third day, our heads were swimming with ideas and we couldn't wait to get back to the UK to implement everything we had learned.
One of the main things we came away with was the idea of impact, and how we can achieve it in every aspect of what we do. Of course, this is nothing new, but it really made us stop and look at what we did, what we were trying to achieve and how that was being conveyed to others. Impact is a strong word, but just because it is a word that implies force, it doesn't mean we always look at what force is being created.
An example was given about a philanthropic programme in Florida where a charity makes "hurricane kits" (eg, water, blankets, torches, batteries and the like) for people in the community. When the group was asked to describe what it did, it inevitably said it made hurricane kits. Fantastic! But that's not all, especially if you were to describe their project in terms of impact. What did they really do? Save lives. And by telling people this outcome, this impact of saving lives, it in turn had a greater impact on their funding, their community partnerships and their membership. In other words, impact has impact.
In this issue of Families in Business, we take a closer look at the world of philanthropy and how family businesses are impacting the world around them through their good deeds. The Bosch Foundation is the essence of for-profit philanthropy, using the company's profits to fund a wealth of activities relating to improving global relationships. And while Bill Gates and Google may be getting lots of credit for their for-profit philanthropic initiatives, it's important to point out that Bosch was at it long before they even began, confirming that families are at the cutting-edge and impacting the way future generations view philanthropy.
The Fleming family also took an interesting route with their philanthropic vision. Started originally as a corporate art collection to decorate their company's walls, the family bought the collection from the bank when the bank was sold to another party. Thus, The Fleming Collection was born, which is owned by the Fleming-Wyfold Foundation, made up of two strains of the Fleming family. The result is the largest private collection of Scottish art, and because it is available for public viewing, it impacts more than just the art world and the family.
These are just a few examples of how families are impacting the world today – and whether by saving lives, fostering relationships or improving education, all are making a big impact on someone else's life. Rah-rah, indeed!