Episode #34: Peter Grant – Understanding effective philanthropy

21 May 2019

Dr Peter Grant

In this episode, I talk to Dr Peter Grant, director of charities MSC programme at Cass business school and author of various books on the theory and history of philanthropy.

Peter is one of the UK’s leading practitioners in public and charitable funding. He was the director of an inner-city youth charity for eight years before moving to Sport England where he devised the first Lottery programme to favour areas of deprivation.

In this interview, we talk about how Peter got to where he is today and what he learned along the way about what works in the charity sector. We explore some of the interesting questions about charity, including the recent criticisms of the high profile business-linked charities such as the Gates Foundation.

I found this a really engaging discussion where we go deep into some of the issues. I think you’ll get a huge amount from it.

Show notes

What did the world look like to the young Peter Grant when he left school and looked ahead to adult life? (1:47)

Peter’s early experience of a dysfunctional organisation, and internal politics (4:34)

The move into an inner-city charity to encourage participation in sport (6:09)

The focus on improving the process of applying for funding for charitable causes (8:34)

The lessons Peter learned about what works and what doesn’t in making effective charity organisations (11:32)

Peter’s move into academia (19:24)

Some of the historical roots of philanthropy (22:53)

How is the sector shaping up today? (29:19)

The role of charities vs the role of the state (31:00)

The blurring of the gap between charities and businesses (37:30)

How social media has helped drive ethical corrections to the charity sector as it has with business (39:57)

Are the criticisms of entrepreneur-led foundations like the Gates Foundation valid, and are these relatively new types of charity? (41:20)

What inspired Peter’s latest book on the myth of the first world war in popular music? (46:00)

What’s one practical change Peter would like to change before hanging up his gloves (49:39)

Advice Peter would give to his younger self (50:10)

An impressive change maker Peter has been inspired by (52:07)

Mistakes Peter has made that led to a better outcome or personal growth (52:58)

A habit Peter would like to change (53:29)

A book that influenced Peter thinking (53:40)

Advice Peter would give to young would-be change makers starting out (54:05)


Peter at Cass Business School https://www.cass.city.ac.uk/faculties-and-research/experts/peter-grant


The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists https://www.amazon.co.uk/Ragged-Trousered-Philanthropists-Wordsworth-Classics/dp/184022682X/