The Centre’s launch could not have been timelier as it coincided with the onset of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic and subsequent renewed interest in philanthropy – notably as a source of rapid response capital – as a means of bringing innovation to entrenched socio-economic global challenges.
The Centre’s launch could not have been timelier as it coincided with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent renewed interest in philanthropy – notably as a source of rapid response capital – as a means of bringing innovation to entrenched socio-economic global challenges.
Indeed, COVID-19 was something of an epiphany for the sector, highlighting both its potential but also the need for change, with the realisation that emerging markets would be hit hardest.
As the University of Cambridge went into lockdown and the world ground to a halt, the need for a rapid understanding of how to mobilise more philanthropic capital with increased efficiency and effectiveness was essentially embodied in the creation of the Centre for Strategic Philanthropy (CSP).
One of the Centre’s core stakeholder communities has always been remote to its base in the UK. The pandemic forced some quick thinking about how the Centre could respond to the needs of its stakeholders while also dealing with the technical challenge of moving immediately to virtual working in the absence of a fully resourced team, in the midst of a hiring freeze at the University and the impossibility of any physical outreach (notably with the broader University community) – a critical component of the Centre’s initial operational activities.
Overnight, virtual became the norm, demanding a whole new way of thinking about how the CSP could quickly gain traction while building a brand and delivering some preliminary analysis and insights (in the absence of travel) that could guide its operational direction.
After just 12 months – and indeed a year wrought with challenges, both logistical and existential – we have been able to deliver 13 of the 16 deliverables envisioned for Year One of the Centre’s operations as per the Strategic Plan. We have resourced up the team, built a global brand and engaged philanthropic practitioners and funders from across the globe; we are now sought-after to speak at events, partner in projects and speak authoritatively on the impact of COVID-19 on philanthropy.
We have further published an article on our COVID-19 report in the Stanford Social Innovation Review and have already finished two case studies to support our Executive Education programme.
These results stand testimony to the commitment of Cambridge Judge Business School, the wider University and the CSP team to think creatively and work beyond their originally defined remit to leverage their collective social capital, delivering a solid 12 months of outreach, content development and thought leadership against all odds.
We are enormously proud of our achievements. Within a very short period, we have built a team with shared values, ambition, and personal commitments to supporting up-and-coming philanthropists in emerging markets to deliver improved impact more quickly to support the third sector for real systemic change beyond the crisis.