In our previous two articles on our ‘More to Wealth’ lecture event at Kensington Palace, we looked back over Dan Snow’s speech on 19th century Britain and Queen Victoria and then introduced Melissa Berman, President of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors (RPA). Within this article, as the last in our series, we take a final look at the Philanthropic Panel Discussion that was hosted by Melissa, using the RPAs five key milestones.

Melissa spoke with Tracy Edwards, Founder of the Maiden Factor, and asked about her desire to help provide women with an education and where this passion stemmed from. Tracy told our guests that, as she was expelled at the age of 15, she gave away her privileged right to receive an education in this country and now realises she made a huge mistake, as there are girls around the world who are denied this right. Tracy also commented that we are now living in an age where women are becoming more empowered and both men and women are leading conversations on the subject, whereas they weren’t happening before.

John Stone, Founder of the Stone Family Foundation, was also on our panel and Melissa spoke with John about the work that he does and what inspired him to start his initiative in the first place, focusing on, what do you want to achieve?. John told our guests that he ended up in the privileged position of deciding what he was going to do with the wealth he made for himself and decided that he wanted to achieve giving it away intelligently to those that need it most, and used the following quote,

“It is more difficult to give money away intelligently than to earn it in the first place” – Andrew Carnegie.

As a businessman, John spoke about how he believes in focus, both within business and his philanthropic initiatives and decisions. So after much due diligence and research, he ended up focussing on the provision of water and sanitation to the developing world, as well as supporting small enterprises with the development of their businesses. Johns foundation support this development not only with funding, but with business development support, in both financial management and marketing.

Melissa also spoke with Myriam Vander Elst, of Epic, about the approach of the foundation and how it was started. Myriam commented that the company was founded four years ago, by the current CEO, Alexandre Mars, who had already decided at 18 that he wanted to become filthy rich so that he could give it back.

Myriam continued to discuss how Epic partook in a huge amount of market research and provided figures to our audience as to why this is so necessary.

“There are roughly 10 million NGOs around the world, with at least 176,000 being registered in the UK and roughly 70% of which only working on a budget of less than 10k.” – Myriam Vander Elst

And so Myriam travelled around the world, meeting philanthropists, governments and NGOs and focused in one learning that changed Epics mind set. Myriam asked our audience the same two questions

  1. Raise your hand if you have given time or money to a good cause in the last 12 months?
  2. Keep your hand raised if you feel you have done enough?


Almost all of our audience went from having their hands raised to back on their laps once more. Myriam stated that this was a turning point; it is clear that so many people are giving much time and money and yet these problems are not being solved.

This is where Epic started with a very different approach. Instead of opening another orphanage or programme, Myriam discussed that the idea was, as an entrepreneur, to begin spreading an ‘epic’ movement, to bring high impact to existing charities and use her private sector experience along the way. Myriam also spoke about the importance of impact solutions as a management tool, as well as monitoring and evaluation for the causes they work with and, much like a business, the need to have clear objectives and KPIs. The measures they use are –

  • Impact
  • Sustainability
  • Innovation
  • Scalability

With the panel discussion drawing to a close, Chief Executive of Sandaire, James Fleming, took to the stage to thank the panel for their honest and insightful insights into their philanthropic work and thanked our guests for joining us.

After a slow and beautifully lit walk down to the Palace, via the Diana Memorial Gardens, guests finally settled in the Palace for the drinks reception and private exhibition of Victoria Revealed, offering an intimate insight into the ground breaking figure that Dan spoke so eloquently about earlier in the evening.

From all of us at Sandaire, we would again like to thank our guests and speakers for joining us for our sixth More to Wealth event. It is impossible to cover all of the fascinating topics covered by our speakers in our series and so more insights from our speakers, as well as video footage from the night, will be shared in the coming weeks.