Moving beyond giving

How are we going to create real change by 2030? How will we eradicate poverty, end gender inequality, stop climate change and achieve the other 14 Sustainable Development Goals when it’s expected to cost 5-10 trillion dollars a year to do so? These are the questions that Thomas Muirhead, Managing Director of, approaches in his TEDx Talk at Warwick. takes a different approach to many charities when it comes to fundraising. They’ve turned the traditional method of relying on donations upside down. Sure, they accept donations still, but they’re basing their income strategy on entrepreneurship and business, not only the good will of the public. You might think this sounds sensible and ask yourself why does that deserve a TEDx Talk, but it’s all too rare a concept in the charity sector. One of the reasons, as Thomas explains, is that charities are discouraged from taking risk with the money that they’re given. Many expect every single pound and penny donated to go to the cause they’re supporting and not spent on “administration”. And that’s understandable. Why wouldn’t you want your money to go straight to the cause you care about enough to dig deep for? But what if £100 of donations could be turned in to £1,000 of income or if £10,000 could be turned in to £150,000 through entrepreneurship like’s Charity Concierge programme has done in just two years?

If the non-profit sector were able to create products that the consumer wants to buy then we have a win-win situation. The consumer gets a product they would have bought anyway and the knowledge that their money is going to combat some of the world’s biggest problems. The charity sector, using this built in advantage to market their product, gets a stream of unrestricted income to do what they do best; make things better.

This will take a shift in thinking though. Next time you donate £10 to a charity they might take a risk with that donation and it might fail. However, with clever management and an understanding of the markets they are entering, charities could take that £10 and use it again, and again, and again to help people all over the world.

Watch Thomas’ brilliant TEDx Talk to hear his ideas in full and see what you think.

I’ve blogged about similar themes to this topic before with Dan Pallota’s TED Talk, watch why he believes the way we think about charity is dead wrong.

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