Rory Tapner, 52, is chief executive of Coutts, having joined in 2010. He was previously chief of UBS Group across Asia-Pacific. Tapner, co-founded the Coeur Blanc ski challenge, which is taking place this year on March 17, and aims to raise £225,000 for Skill Force, which keeps vulnerable young people in education or training.
What motivated you to start giving to charity?
I saw people giving in a very ineffective way, which almost turned me off giving to charity. However, when I started to see people doing things in a way where they were really monitoring the impact of what they did, I began to think, “OK, we could really do something here.” When you begin to see the tangible benefits of what you’re doing, and you see they are sustainable, then you feel that, actually, this is worth doing.
What changes have you noticed over the past few years in the way people give to charity?
At Coutts we’ve witnessed a significant change over the past 10 years. A lot of our clients’ philanthropic giving tended to be given in memory of someone, or was left as a legacy in a will.
Now, more people are giving in their lifetimes, involving their families, and putting more time and effort into it as well. That’s a huge difference. It has more impact and is more effective.
Why is philanthropy important to you?
I have been lucky in many ways and it gives me the chance to put something back. I like to do it in a targeted way. For me it is about contributing financial resources and experience in my lifetime, as opposed to when I am gone.
Is it more important to donate money or time to a good cause?
Both are important. I don’t think it is possible to say one is more important than another. Look at some of the spectacularly good people who run charities, such as Peter Cross, who runs Skill Force. He is fantastic at what he does. He is giving enormous quantities of time, effort and expertise to make Skill Force work incredibly well.
What changes, if any, would you make to the charitable sector?
I would have more charities and donors asking, “Was there a significant impact? Did it work well?” Encouragingly, people working at places like [the charity think-tank and consultancy] New Philanthropy Capital, which analyses the work of a lot of charities, are beginning to say, “No, don’t give it to that charity, because the money won’t be used well, but if you give it to this charity, doing the same sort of work, it will be used far better.” I would emphasise the importance of accountability.
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