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Giving richly

Monday’s Wall Street Journal article on charitable giving (“English Lessons”) reports that giving in Britain is on the increase and that donors are “applying businesslike methods to ensure their money is well spent”.

United States citizens are number one in the world, giving 1.67% of gross domestic product to people in need. If that were 1% of net, it would not be so impressive. Almost 2% of gdp is considerable. The United Kingdom follows with 0.73% of gross domestic product given to charity, followed by Canada at 0.72%, and Australia at 0.69%. You may have noticed these are all countries with British roots.

“According to Charities Aid Foundation, individuals in England gave a total of £8.9 billion ($18.4 billion) last year, up 9% from 2005. And the richest are writing bigger checks.”

Two of them are Chris Hohn and his wife, Jamie Cooper-Hohn –

“As a young banker working in the Philippines, the British-born Mr. Hohn was struck by the sight of children rummaging through trash bags for food. On his second date with Ms. Cooper-Hohn, an American, he showed her photos of such kids.

So in 2004 he created the Children’s Investment Fund, a London-based hedge fund. . . Mr. Hohn turns over a percentage of the management fees and profits he earns from the fund to the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, or CIFF, which then distributes the money to charities. The foundation, which has committed to give away $58 million since 2002, is managed by Ms. Cooper-Hohn.

The new donor entrepreneurs have begun pushing charities to improve the accountability of their programmes. Their insistence on results have inspired some real improvements.

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