May 2017 Quarterly Dinner

Date: 04 May 2017

Soccer’s Sheepshanks says his goal is seeing community foundations, philanthropy and business work together for the common good

Business people can help unlock one of the nation’s best kept secrets - the vital role community foundations play in delivering millions of pounds in grants to good causes annually, says David Sheepshanks CBE, the chair of UK Community Foundations.

And the former chairman of the Football League and Ipswich Town FC, and current chairman of the FA National Football Centre advisory board said another goal is reviving the Victorian zeal for philanthropy to change communities for the better.

He was speaking at a recent Milton Keynes Business Leaders Partnership dinner with MK BLP members and trustees and supporters of Milton Keynes Community Foundation, including its Chief Executive Ian Revell. David asked them to imagine the country without its 46 community foundations. “Without our activities and without the 22,000 grants we make - 70 million pounds worth across the UK last year. We are the fourth biggest grant maker in the country and without us there is a very real danger of disconnected communities.

“The role of community foundations cannot be overstated, it is to understand local needs and put something back into local communities. Like MK Community Foundation doing a marvellous job here - a tremendous catalyst for growth and local philanthropy through local leadership,” he said.

David said business has a role supporting the work of their local community foundations, like MK Business Leaders he said, with its named fund for encouraging entrepreneurship and social enterprise generated by profits from the successful annual MK Business Achievement Awards event.

And he said, by encouraging the power of philanthropy as seen in Victorian times when the foundations of today’s schools, universities, hospitals, libraries, museums, theatres, galleries, parks and garden were laid. But while the wealth of a small number of uber-rich grows, so too does the inequality gap, he warned. In 1989 there were nine UK billionaires and now there are more than 150 but charitable giving had not increased in real terms for 30 years and household giving has declined.

There were business people who did give he said. In Nottingham a business person is giving one per cent of his profits to local causes and in Norfolk 45 young business people each donate £25 a month, already raising £79,000 for local projects that they choose.

“Successful business person Bill Holroyd is creating a chain of state-of- the-art youth zones and when asked why he does it, he said because charity eclipsed everything he had achieved in business.

“It is down to us, not the state, to encourage the redistribution of wealth through voluntary giving and there are three things we can do to promote it: Engage local business leaders like us and share our stories of generosity in giving money and time; Invest in the young by sharing ownership and showing leadership: and, To aim high,” David said.

“Then we can build a happier, safer and better connected community for the generations that will follow us.”

Thanking David for his talk and for the several football stories that followed, Dr Julie Mills and Nicholas Mann, on behalf of the MK Business Leaders board of directors, said the evening had been fabulously informative, inspiring and entertaining.

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The MK BLP Dinner took place on May 4, 2017

 

Notes for editors:

  • Milton Keynes Business Leaders Partnership (MKBLP) is a group of individuals from a broad cross section of backgrounds who utilise their skills and knowledge for the benefit of the wider business community.
  • As part of the vision for the continued growth and development of MK we are focusing on key areas identified as fundamental to the success of the city including: Transport and Communications; Smart Cities and High Technology; Sport, health and wellbeing; Economic Development; Education, Skills and Apprenticeships
  • As an independent organisation, funded through member subscriptions, MKBLP works to identify and develop interests that are specific to the business community in the city. The aim is to influence change as MK develops and grows by utilising proven senior leadership qualities from across the membership.  Member feedback provides a catalyst to enable us to work with other partners to help business thrive and prosper.

 

To request further information or an interview please contact: Steve Larner at Interdirect on 07790 244542 or tel: 0845 121 5566 or email: steve.larner@interdirect.co.uk