What Are We Looking For?
Our preference would be to describe what we have learned along the way, both as philanthropists and, perhaps, as investors of the Foundation’s capital (although much has been said before in the letters of the Nomad Investment Partnership, a copy of which can be downloaded on this website). The problem is that a full description of how we make donations runs the risk of leading potential recipients who, in subsequent meetings, give us the answers they think we want to hear. As Warren Buffett once put it, “we’ve found that if you advertise an interest in buying collies, a lot of people will call hoping to sell you their cocker spaniels”.
A low profile may help to side step some of the cocker spaniel breeders but we can also be a little more expansive in the hope of steering more collies our way. In addition to the objectives set out with the Charities Commission, we are interested to hear from organisations:
- That are addressing the long-term, root causes of problems. Charities that could put themselves out of business by solving issues will rank higher in our affections than those offering short-term, band aid solutions.
- That are simple.
- That are teaching people to fish, rather than handing out fish suppers.
- That are run by their Founders, who intend to be in charge for the long-term.
- That are addressing sizeable problems and have a plan to scale, if appropriate. (Bearing in mind that not all charities should be grown and those that have wisely chosen not to grow may be fine with us too. It is important to know who you are in this regard, after all, growing an organisation that should not be grown is a mistake.)
- That don’t want to put us on their boards. We are happy to provide honest, rational advice when sought but, we are not ones for committees. This is your show.