Fiona Halton believes there is philanthropic potential in all of us and that, by pooling our resources, we can effect positive change

Fiona Halton’s mission is to turn Britain into a nation of philanthropists. Many would scoff at her audacity, but her track record shows she has never been one to duck a challenge. In 1986, she set up the Great Investment Race, in which investment teams used their skills to raise more than £750,000 for charity. Thereafter, she was co-director of Comic Relief and part of the team that organised Red Nose Day. Then she founded TimeBank, which aims to make volunteering as easy as donating money. In 2000, she became chief executive of Pilotlight, which has helped hundreds of people in the City and beyond give their time and know-how to charities, often doubling their turnover within a year.

This year, Halton has moved on again, founding Philanthropy in Action and bringing the global network Social Venture Partners (SVP) to London as its first initiative. Her firm conviction is that everyone has a philanthropic journey in them, but that Brits are not very good at taking the first step. Her aim is to help us on our way. I meet her at the new Rosewood Hotel, near her office in Lincoln’s Inn Fields. ‘Just look at how many people did the Ice Bucket Challenge this year – we all want to do something positive,’ she enthuses.

While still at Pilotlight, she commissioned a report from Dr Beth Breeze at the University of Kent’s Centre for Philanthropy. ‘We found several barriers to giving,’ Halton says. ‘Some people said they didn’t believe they had anything to offer. Others didn’t know where to give or were too busy. Some, having previously given money and had a bad experience such as lack of feedback on how their donation was spent, were worried charities aren’t managed well.’

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