Why do philanthropists put their faith – and their finance – in charities with royal founders and patrons? There are, no doubt, a variety of answers and some might not be as obvious as you would think. In my experience, the real benefit is that a royal patron can signify solidity, consistency and, above all, quality.
In the case of The Prince’s Trust, our association with our founder and President, HRH The Prince of Wales, is ingrained across the organisation. Way back in 1976, HRH invested his Royal Navy severance pay in a range of community projects to benefit disadvantaged and marginalised young people. Most of the programmes we run today are based on ideas from HRH and he remains an active and passionate participant in events and activities, particularly those where our inspirational young people are involved.
The Prince inspires us to do our best for our young people; to be the best organisation we can be. This is something our staff and volunteers understand and our partners and donors value. We try to take good decisions, to live our values and focus relentlessly on our mission. We don’t get blown off course by the latest trend or fleeting funding opportunity, but we do innovate to improve what we do.
This year, The Prince’s Trust in the UK will support more than 70,000 young people and we could never achieve this without our loyal and committed philanthropic donors. As well as providing vital funds, they enable us to grow our Prince’s Trust community, through providing access to their networks. They also offer us insights and expertise which are invaluable. In return, we ensure our supporters feel valued, recognised and – most importantly – updated regularly on the impact that their investment has made. In my experience, donors are most interested in the life changing opportunities that they have made possible, while valuing our royal connections.
With youth unemployment and disengagement becoming a global issue, particularly in the wake of the financial crisis, governments and agencies across the world turned to us for advice and inspiration. To satisfy this demand, we launched Prince’s Trust International at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Malta during 2015. We are now operating in nine countries, from Malta to Barbados, and the potential to make a bigger difference, worldwide, seems limitless. This, in turn, provides opportunities for philanthropists to support our work on an international scale and we know this is of great appeal to many people who have business interests across the globe.
From those small beginnings in 1976, The Prince’s Trust has become a household name in the UK and, we hope, will be increasingly recognised around the world. Having the Prince of Wales as our founder and as an active President is a real benefit and something that everyone in our community celebrates with great pride.
Dame Martina Milburn DCVO is Group Chief Executive, The Prince’s Trust