Top 5 Best pieces of advice from Citywealth’s Philanthropic Advisors

Date: 27 Apr 2021

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Philanthropic advisors play a pivotal role in helping donors achieve their mission and clarify their values and strategy. Therefore, we’ve prepared a selection of the most valuable suggestions from five of the Citywealth’s Top Philanthropic Advisors this year. Continue reading to discover more about what they recommend donors to do to increase and improve their philanthropic activity.

#1 Do the best with what you’ve got


Whether we’ve only begun getting involved in philanthropy, or already have extensive knowledge and experience in this sector, Emily Collins-Ellis, Managing Director at I.G. Advisors, explains that it’s equally important to try our best to contribute to humanitarian actions with what each of us has got. With a background in social justice work, particularly focussed on women’s and LGBTQ+ rights, as well as anti-racism and mental-health activism, Emily strongly believes that the keys to success are simply the qualities that make us humans: curiosity, empathy and connection.

#2 Invest time in understanding the problem and getting the right support


Asking for help and getting proper support from the right advisors is highly beneficial when it comes to good philanthropy. On many occasions, an expert can help donors achieve their humanitarian aspirations and eventually become the best donors they can be, as long as both parties cooperate and focus on the right strategy. Jo Ensor, CEO at Philanthropy Insight, is advising donors to “invest time in understanding the actual problem, by bringing their skills, experience, networks and passion into their philanthropy and getting the right support.”

#3 Listen carefully

Good communication is one of the most essential things in all aspects of life. However, active listening is a real art when trying to help others. And when it’s done correctly, it can make a significant difference between great results and mediocre ones. Russell Prior, Regional Head of Family Governance, Family Enterprise Succession & Philanthropy, EMEA at HSBC Private Bank, advises us to “think about the change in society we want to support.
Start with the social outcome in mind and then work backwards on how to achieve it. Most importantly, listen very carefully to those who you are trying to help.”

#4 Fall in love with the problem, not the solution

A sage and thought-provoking advice from Heather Grady, Vice President and Practice Lead on Environment, Rights and Global Development at Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors.

In a rush to identify and solve a problem in a fast way – which is only human nature – we often tend not to discover the real problem, thinking we already have all the answers we need. Heather Grady encourages us to “Fall in love with the problem, not the solution. It is easy for each of us to think we have the answers to complex problems, but most problems are challenging or seemingly intractable because the answers aren’t understood yet. Or, the solutions are apparent to those closest to the problem, but we haven’t tapped them yet for their advice. Be patient, and listen, even while remaining laser-focused on the problems you care most about.”

#5 Get started

This piece of advice from Tom Hall, Head of Philanthropy Services at UBS Wealth Management, may seem to be the most simple out of all, but getting started is sometimes the most challenging step. But before embarking on this voyage, remember two things: that every philanthropic journey is different and that the expert in anything was once a beginner.


We hope that these tips from our advisors helped you enhance your knowledge regarding the challenging but rewarding philanthropy sector. If you had any hesitation and doubts about whether you should start getting involved – or getting more involved – hopefully these pieces of advice provided a better insight into this matter.


We always look forward to sharing with you our top tips and support from Citywealth’s Industry experts, so make sure to follow us on FacebookLinkedInInstagram and Twitter to be updated with our latest networking events and news.