I’ve been in Athens this week, teaching a condensed version of my ‘fundraising and philanthropy’ masters level course, to 16 University of Kent students who are based in that fascinating city, studying for a masters degree in Heritage Management. It makes perfect sense to pursue that degree in a city where there’s the equivalent of a Stonehenge on every street corner. The course leader, Dr Evangelos Kyriakidis is a dynamic and energetic academic, who has not only designed this course but has managed to engage the support of a number of philanthropic individuals and charitable foundations so that full scholarships (fees and living expenses) are available every year to a cohort of students from developing countries. This initiative combines support for bright young scholars with a longer-term contribution to development, as their careers should eventually help to attract tourists to visit the heritage sites in their home countries. An excellent win-win for philanthropists seeking to make a difference in the world.
Talking of which, I returned to the UK to read the excellent news that 12 more names have been added to the Giving Pledge, including 4 in the UK. The pledge is a public commitment, now signed by more than 100 individuals and families, to give the larger part of their wealth to good causes. When this pledge was first launched in 2010, it was suggested that such a public statement of intent would not appeal to individuals and families outside of the USA, so it is heartening to find that is not the case. Here’s some comment on this development from the UK’s Matthew Bishop, co-coiner of the term ‘philanthrocapitalism’, whose opinion is always worth reading.