I have been approached by someone advising a Charitable Trust on this very question. The Trust has assets of £11 million and currently allocates its investment income of £500k per annum (they must be good investors) to a variety of NGOs with no particular sectoral focus.
So, what areas should an independent, flexible and thoughtful UK-based trust focus on? and how many of its capital assets should it spend over what period?
This is a generous amount of money for any individual to give, but is also a drop in the ocean when it comes to meeting needs, so what to spend it on?
Given that it is a small amount, my chief criterion would be that the money is used to change the way people think about development.
New ideas are the most scalable things going and represent one way of leveraging the £11m. The fund could work on how do we unearth good ideas, generate them, share them and make them work?
Do you run the assets down or just use the income? Again, the question would boil down to whether you can transform ideas with the £500k or not?
So, some candidates for using the £500k (in no particular order):
- a scholarship fund for 25 new leaders in African development per year
- a prize fund for the 25 best African innovations in poverty reduction
- support to 4-5 African online newspapers to create something similar to the Guardian's own Development website
- a fund to recognise and support 25 outstanding leaders in the fight against poverty in Africa
- setting up an accountability and transparency initiative that monitors African governments' spending, policy commitments and legislative achievements on Millennium Development Goals
- working with a human rights organisation to track the performance of governments (in Africa and outside Africa) in respecting and protecting economic, social and cultural rights of Africans
Anyway, these are just some of my ideas to get the ball rolling (and don't think I did not subtly suggest they spend it at IDS!).
The adviser to the UK Trust would really like to hear from you on this.