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June 11, 2011 12:22 am

How to give it: Philip Mould

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Philip Mould

Philip Mould, OBE, 51, is a British art dealer, writer and broadcaster. Along with Fiona Bruce he will host a new art investigation show, Fake or Fortune (starting on BBC1 on June 19). He is a patron of the charity Fight for Sight, which is launching its fundraising Carrots Nightwalk during National Eye Health Week (June 13-19). visionmatters.org.uk

What is the first charitable cause that made an impression on you?

Wild plants. I’ve always been deeply attached to wild things growing without the help of man. When a hedgerow near where I holidayed as a child in north Wales was utterly destroyed by herbicide, I realised just how perishable our natural heritage is. I’m now president of Plantlife (plantlife.org.uk), the main wild flower charity. It’s useful to remind botanists of the visual and spiritual side of scientific conservation projects.

Which cause do you feel most passionately about?

Rather like a human has different areas of taste – art, clothes or whatever – you can feel strongly about different areas of charity. Human suffering moves me greatly but I also think it’s essential to keep diversity and beauty, so a third of my charitable emphasis goes to nature. My main focus, though, is sight. Firstly, because I spend so much of my time using my optical nerves professionally. Secondly, because I believe in playing to one’s strengths. As an art dealer, I can help Fight for Sight by lending them my gallery and talking to potential supporters about art.

Why do you give to charity?

I was brought up Roman Catholic and believe in conscience. One is here on earth for a fraction of a moment. If you leave it in a worse state because of your activities, then you’ve got something to answer for. You should try to leave the planet in a marginally better state. I also enjoy finding a cause that my suggestions can benefit; it’s about feeling useful, feeling potent in an area other than that of making money.

Finally, one is a product of one’s parents. My father was an immensely charitable figure, so there’s a sort of genetic expectation for me to be.

Should we be asked to donate money at cashpoints?

That’s a very good idea. Sometimes you’ll give money on a whim when you’re in a good mood. It’s an excellent plan to try to catch that mood. It’s an area of charitable giving that hasn’t been explored enough. The only current example is giving to a homeless person with a bowl in the street, which is always an embarrassing encounter. Many friends are cynical about people on the street but there was a man begging in Bond Street for about 20 years who I used to talk to. He was incredibly polite with a rather thoughtful turn of phrase.

Should we leave all our money to charity when we die?

There’s no expectation at all but if you’ve taken care of your dependants sufficiently then it seems an obvious thing to do.

howtogiveit@ft.com

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