In this occasional series of interviews with the City’s leading philanthropists we aim to bring guidance and inspiration to others.
Francesca Monti is a Senior Marketing Executive for Charities at Rathbone Brothers Plc. Francesca studied Law and Media at Keele University and has recently joined the newly formed Young Professional’s Board for The City Funding Network.
What does philanthropy mean to you?
I have to admit, I used to think philanthropy was the preserve of the ultra-rich. I had never considered I would become a philanthropist. But in my own small way, through the City Funding Network and their events, I’ve found that anyone can be a philanthropist as everyone has something to offer. Whether giving your time, money or your advice, all and any amount are equally valuable and powerful when leveraged in the right way.
How would you describe your philanthropy and what is your goal?
I’m quite strategic in my approach to giving. It is important for me to fully understand if it’s my financial support or my time that’s more valuable to the charity, rather than just making a donation and not making a connection. However I do sometimes find myself giving to a friend’s fundraising campaign - who doesn’t!
What was your first experience of philanthropy?
Whilst at secondary school I found out the Brownie Pack in my old town was going to close as they no longer had enough leaders. I volunteered my Wednesday evenings, and weekends when needed, so that the Pack could not only remain open but was able to have more girls join. It was quite a responsibility to accept at 16, alongside studying for GCSEs, but it really made a difference to the local community and allowed the girls to develop new skills outside of the classroom. It also meant I was able to organise a trip to Disneyland!
Do you feel you are making a difference? If so how?
I think about this question a lot. Once at a City Funding Network event I heard someone say a donation should be somewhere between a gift and a sacrifice. I feel that by pooling our resources, together we can make a tangible difference. Through City Funding Network events I’m able to support pioneering charities working on the front lines of social/environmental/humanitarian issues that often fall through the cracks.
What is the biggest challenge you have had to date?
As with most people I don’t always have the time I’d like to spend thinking strategically about my philanthropy. This is why I struggled to find small charities to support where I can really make a difference and whose mission I can connect with. At the City Funding Network’s live crowdfunding events, each charity has just six minutes to convince you of their cause which is great as I am able to learn everything I need to know about the charity in a short amount of time. The projects that pitch are so small that I feel my donation can really make an impact to what they want to achieve.
Has your philanthropy had an impact on your personal or professional life?
In the professional sphere I’ve been able to build and develop my leadership skills by being a part of the City Funding Network, as well as creating new professional contacts through their events. On a personal note I am more confident in my understanding of the third sector and take an interest in reading about changes to the sector, as well as noticing smaller charity projects local to myself. It is quite empowering knowing that I work alongside so many passionate and interesting people, from really dynamic charities to those, like myself, who have a personal interest in growing philanthropy and helping to make a difference no matter how small.
What are you most proud of?
I ran the London Marathon last year, my first and hopefully not last, and raised almost £4,000 for the Institute of Cancer Research!
Why is philanthropy important today?
It is fantastic to see peer-led events like the City Funding Network fostering a culture of philanthropy and charitable giving. Together we have a significant amount of influence in our various sectors and are able to make a real difference. Through the power of giving, in whatever capacity the individual is able to offer, a positive change can be made from the small to the national scale. The act of giving is good, but knowing that you have been able to give back and influence others to do so is great.
What advice would you give to people starting out on their own journey?
I would tell them to come along to a City Funding Network! The next one is on 12th November. Young professionals might not be able to give in huge amounts but they are interested in helping and have skills-based resources to offer small charities. City Funding Network encourages thinking outside the traditional philanthropy box. Young people now want to find ways they can provide charities with more than just money, from offering their professional networks to volunteering their time or providing charities with advice. They are all valuable gifts and welcomed with open arms by the charities.
City Philanthropy and the City Funding Network will host the next live crowdfunding event on Novemer 12th. Book your place.