Megan Foo's Blog

Encouraging the Next Generation of Philanthropists – Interview with Simeon Williams of The Bread Tin

Volunteering with Givology has taught me that change can start small. That the ripple effect of volunteerism can become a tidal wave of change that improves the very fabric of our society, spreading from our own community to the reaches of the wider world. That beyond the fact that our world is beset with war, beleaguered by poverty, and seemingly beyond repair, we as individuals have the potential to enhance social responsibility. I believe that hefty donations and ambitious development projects are not needed to unlock the doors to social change, but that simple acts of giving, small hours dedicated to service, and the heartwarming passion of volunteerism can pave the way for a brighter tomorrow.
All of my beliefs were validated yesterday, when I had the tremendous opportunity of interviewing Simeon Williams, an initiator of [url=]The Bread Tin[/url]. A UK-based charity with the vision to equip a new generation of philanthropists and engender a culture of sustainable giving, The Bread Tin consists of [url=]“giving clubs”[/url] where students and young university graduates work with an individual donor to initiate a charitable project. Whether the proceeds are geared towards grassroots projects in the developing world, or to cities ravaged by political strife, The Bread Tin’s philosophy for change and fresh approach to open giving combine to form an enviable nonprofit model!
[b]Megan Foo: How did you come up with the concept of The Bread Tin?[/b]
[b]Simeon Williams:[/b] The Bread Tin model is tremendously simple. It’s a core concept through the international bankers network which is supported by a very old structure of the livery company system which is based on values of promoting education and charitable giving. The network is lucky to have alot of executive members from the financial services & banking here in the UK. There’s a lot of tradition, there’s a lot of great history behind the organization but maximizing the same founding values remains the same.
What we wanted to do was encourage the actual values of charitable giving amongst young people within the city. The Bread Tin came about because it connects the core donor, who is a senior executive or very high-level chairman to a small group of just ten students or ten graduates. Those students or graduates, who could be from any bank or any legal firm for instance, would then give roughly ten pounds a month. If they are willing, they could get match giving, they would ask their friends to pool in money, they would do more charity fundraising. The core donor then spends his or her time mentoring the students by putting in the first £10,000. Some groups have raised 30,000 pounds and some groups are aiming for £50,000 so not all groups are the same but at least the philosophy is.
It’s an interesting take on charitable giving. It’s really looking at the professional side of giving, and as part of their career plan within their HR unit, they would work together with their very high-level CEO who would give 10,000 pounds for a project. The group would then decide what charitable project they want to support. The International Bankers Network does not force the students or graduates to choose a charity. We’ve had donors in the past who said “We’ll give £10,000, £100,000 to something”, but they’ve always got strings attached, as in the money always has to go to a certain type of charity so that’s not really The Bread Tin’s philosophy.
The Bread Tin’s philosophy is more about open giving, about getting people to give because they’ve identified a need amongst themselves that they feel very passionate about.
[i]Romell Romelito Dawkins 2013 Speaking & encouraging Social Enterprise with Young NConnected[/i]
[b]Megan Foo: What inspires you to work with The Bread Tin?[/b]
[b]Simeon Williams:[/b] The Bread Tin has raised roughly around £170,000 pounds. The last group raised £24,500 pounds generated from the first inclusion of their mentor's £10,000 donation into the BT model. The charitable projects are completely independent; the students, the graduates meet on a monthly basis but they can meet on their own times. There have been a lot of great friendships that come about through this.
I think the really cool thing about it is that once you come into The Bread Tin, it’s as if you come into a family because the first thing you do as a group is set up a giving account, so you’ll have to give to it. Once the giving account is established, any money that you give into it plus gift aids (we get an extra 25% here from the government) is added on and that money becomes the group’s money. It doesn’t become your money. So literally from day one, when you walk into The Bread Tin, you are actually faced with a “cultural giving shock”, which is really interesting because a lot of people within the investment banking field work with money all the time but when you actually work with someone else’s money, £10,000 pounds in a pot, you realize that we can make this project a lot bigger.
What I like about The Bread Tin is that it is a scaling-up of the amount of giving that can potentially be done, just because the group can think about “let’s not give ten pounds a pound, let’s give £50”. Some groups have raised 30,000 pounds and some groups have raised £50,000 so not all groups are the same but at least the philosophy is.
[b]Megan Foo: What does The Bread Tin’s philosophy for change entail?[/b]
[b]Simeon Williams:[/b] They have come across by using the metaphor of the bread and the tin, and the baking of bread. Just the fact that it’s really about young people getting into philanthropy for something that they want, so there’s as much of giving back as there is getting something out of philanthropy. The Bread Tin as an organization is really unique because the International Bankers Network is a white-labeled service through other different legal investment partners. It’s not known as “The Bread Tin”, it’s known as Deutsche Bank or UBS for instance. It’s really interesting because the organization doesn’t seek to compete with other charitable organizations. It just benefits by actually providing a pool of donors who actually can then send £10,000 or more to a group.
The Bread Tin’s philosophy really is about encouraging the next generation of sustainable giving but by actually making it easy for people to understand that in their workplace they can get together and still be doing something. In the city, there’s a bit of a stigma because doing extracurricular activities and devoting your time to an employer are slightly diametrically opposite, but The Bread Tin is getting the senior management of corporates to really take a look about this in their HR recruiting. This is where I think one of the biggest strengths of The Bread Tin lies.
[b]Megan Foo: What makes The Bread Tin different from other organizations that focus on charitable giving and nonprofit service? [/b]
[b]Simeon Williams:[/b] The charitable giving is completely independent; the group chooses exactly where the project can go, even the donor can’t even convince the group where the money should go. The donors are streamed so that they are completely transparent. Some of the projects have gone to employment in Bosnia to the London riots. There have been projects where money has gone to provide breakfast meals for young children that often go to school without having breakfast.
The projects are very diversified, showing that people themselves are diverse, as is the group! That’s where I think The Bread Tin is playing its biggest card. In the market, there is such a saturation of charities. In the UK, we have numerous social enterprise organizations and if people want to find a specific issue of charity they will go and look for it and they can still give to that. The Bread Tin is not trying to compete with that; it’s trying to provide a workplace, to encourage a generation of philanthropy by not placing emphasis on cause-specific funding but fundraising for something that you want to change. I think that’s probably the best initiative.
[b]Megan Foo: Can you tell me about the event that you held with the Philanthropy Club?[/b]
[b]Simeon Williams:[/b] That was really great. It was at the Belgravia Art Gallery and the owner of the gallery had spent her time raising money through Nelson Mandela Art to pay for four schools in India and also a hospital, which is ridiculously fantastic. It’s kind of give-and-take. One thing that’s so positive about The Bread Tin is that there are so many projects and so many graduates – we’ve got 100 to 200 people at one time in any one group – there are so many people communicating with each other. There are past projects and past ventures.
At the Belgravia Gallery, we were sharing the Sebastian Hunter Memorial Trust and it was a great turnout. Obviously with everything that we do there’s a tremendous amount of wine and everybody was very happy with the venue. The gallery was fantastic. What was really interesting was the Q&A side. The people really didn’t identify the gallery as a giving point.
Where The Bread Tin is fascinating at this point and especially from the International Bankers Network is that lots of great venues have been used. For instance, we had a Casino Royale rooftop bar event for instance, for another different group and it was completely surreal. And there are so many different ways – we can just show people that giving doesn’t have to be boring, giving can happen anywhere. The Belgravia event – there was a great Q&A, there was a large turnout. Members from previous groups came just to talk to representatives of The Bread Tin. There was lots of information exchanged, flyers, that sort of thing.
[b]Megan Foo: What are your focus priorities for 2013?[/b]
[b]Simeon Williams:[/b] The Bread Tin is just expanding. From the International Bankers Network side, we have a lot of projects coming on. We are are tasked with giving £1 M through a new charitable trust and have recently have held a fundraiser evening the Lord Mayor. What the International Bankers Network is doing is going through a huge social media reform. We’re integrating The Bread Tin projects within our social media network and the International Bankers Network is developing a new social media structure to encourage people that haven’t thought about finance, legal skills or the business industry to start an internship and a giving program from day one. We’re really looking forward to that. We’ll still have our gala events, we’ll still have our fundraisers as well and we hope that we can make them more visually appealing.
[b]Megan Foo: What are your hopes for the future of The Bread Tin?[/b]
[b]Simeon Williams:[/b] We’re trying to encourage younger generation people. From our side, it’s about having a sustained, viable source of graduates and young people who really want to work within these charitable ventures and take them further. Once The Bread Tin project is finished after 12 months, a lot of the groups have continued in their second year to fundraise for a charity, which is really interesting. The charities obviously provide a large amount of feedback on how the money is spent but beyond that, a large amount of groups have decided to fundraise for them a second year and sustain a relationship. That’s what I hope for The Bread Tin, really, just that the groups will become self-sustainable and continue to give. Of course, they have a charitable talent and I hope that they do not close it.

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