Chinese institute learns from Inspiring Scotland’s philanthropy approach

26 April 2016

Chinese institute learns from Inspiring Scotland’s philanthropy approach

A Chinese charity group, backed by leading philanthropists including Bill Gates, visited Inspiring Scotland to learn about our approach to tackling social issues.

Delegates from the China Philanthropy Global Institute (CPGI), a charity education group whose founding members include Microsoft founder Bill Gates, visited the offices of Inspiring Scotland on Tuesday 26 April to see how our approach to funding and collaboration is developing Scottish charities and the work they do.

Inspiring Scotland invests money and expertise in the voluntary sector to tackle some of Scotland's most critical social issues. We follow a venture philanthropy model, which uses practices from venture capitalism, such as long-term funding and hands-on organisational development, and apply them to the charity sector.

During the visit, the delegation heard presentations from Inspiring Scotland chief executive, Celia Tennant, Tris Lumley, director of Development at London-based venture philanthropy organisation New Philanthropy Capital, and Edinburgh-based Eoghan Mackie, founder of Challenges Worldwide, a business development company working in Africa.

The CPGI was set up at the end of 2015 with the aim of directing more of China’s growing wealth towards philanthropy. More than 100 philanthropists from China and the US have pledged support, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Jack Ma, the founder of the Chinese shopping website Alibaba, whose net worth is estimated at £16bn.

The CPGI contacted Inspiring Scotland through the Asian Venture Philanthropy Network, which arranged the visit, as it hopes to replicate some of Inspiring Scotland’s methods in China.

Since 2009, Inspiring Scotland has invested £90m and supported more than 200 charities to help Scotland’s most disadvantaged people, impacting the lives of 200,000 Scots.

Inspiring Scotland funds charities by pooling investment from Scottish Government, private individuals and charitable foundations, but also supports charities with business advice and expertise, and encourages collaboration across the public, private and voluntary sectors.

The delegation to Scotland was led by Wang Zhenyao, Dean of the Chinese Philanthropy Research Institute at Beijing Normal University and a leading force in establishing the CPGI.

Dean Wang, said: “Alliances and teamwork across philanthropy organisations, social enterprises and government puts Scotland in a leading position in social innovation.

“I feel we can do a lot together to set up standards and measurement in China to maximise social impact.”

Charity and philanthropy has grown dramatically in China in recent years with more than 600,000 social enterprises and charitable foundations registered in the country at the end of 2014, a 16% increase on the year before. One of the aims of the CPGI is to educate and train people to lead the sector and address the skills gap this rapid growth has created.

During the visit, the delegates learnt how Inspiring Scotland works with government, business and charities to address social issues, and how sharing expertise from across the sectors helps the charities to develop and grow, and better achieve their aims.

Celia Tennant said: “Collaboration and sharing best practice has always been a central tenet of what Inspiring Scotland does so were pleased to share some of our successes with our colleagues from China Philanthropy Global Institute.

“Our approach to funding and our engagement with the charities we work with, and the social challenges they address, has had an enormous effect on the lives of disadvantaged people in Scotland and we strongly believe sharing knowledge and experience across the sectors is vital to that success.”

The delegation’s visit to Inspiring Scotland in Edinburgh was part of a two-day tour of charities and foundations in Scotland which included visiting the Calman Trust in Inverness, which is supported by Inspiring Scotland’s 14:19 Fund, to learn about its successful social enterprises.

The group also visited the Celtic Foundation, which collaborates with Inspiring Scotland through Scottish Government’s CashBack for Communities programme, and the Dundee offices of the Rank Foundation, a London-based philanthropy organisation.