Charities fit for royalty

23 March 2011

I confess that by nature I am more of a roundhead than a cavalier, but there are times when I want to praise the monarchy. The publication last week of the wedding list for William and Kate was one such occasion.

William and Kate (or, Catherine as she is known in the royal household) have asked that people who want to give them presents instead make a donation to “The Prince William and Miss Catherine Middleton Charitable Gift Fund”. Twenty six small or medium-sized charities are set to benefit from gifts to this fund; none are household names.

These 26 charities are spread across five themes of children fulfilling their potential, support for services personnel and their families, conservation for future generations, changing lives through arts and sport, as well as help and care at home. The themes reflect the personal interests of William and Kate. You can express a preference for a theme or for individual organisations, or spread your gift across all.

NPC was asked for ideas of charities within the themes William and Kate had chosen, for them to consider. As well as the themes, the final choices of charities were made by William and Kate. A number of charities NPC knows well and likes are included in the final list, such as Into University and Dance United. The former helps disadvantaged children get access to university, the latter works with ex-offenders. Into University is already attracting interest from a number of foundations and wealthy private donors, but Dance United has had less exposure. Its work with ex-offenders is successful, reduces crime and saves society money; it deserves more money and to grow (see NPC’s report on youth offending, Trial and error, for more information). Both are small charities with lots of potential.

This whole initiative is a good idea and should be applauded. As well as helping a number of great charities doing important work, it serves another useful purpose by demonstrating the connections that the rich and powerful can make and have with charities. A common refrain in discussions about why rich people don’t give more money to charities is that some find it hard to connect with a cause. This might seem puzzling, and even depressing, to many who spend their lives working for and with charities. William and Kate deserve praise for having strong interests.

I hope lots of people give lots of money to the fund, and that the charities it supports flourishes. I hope also that other wealthy people learn from and are inspired by the initiative. It is almost enough to make me want to grow my hair into ringlets.