Carole Bamford is a champion of organic farming, responsibly-sourced food and holistic living. She runs Daylesford, one of the most sustainable organic farms in the UK, and founded the Daylesford Foundation to support organisations that educate young people in organic food, growing and the countryside. She is also a director of her family business JCB, the world’s third largest construction equipment manufacturer. For over 30 years she has developed the company’s philanthropic strategy which includes huge support for the NSPCC.
Carole endeavours to avoid duplication in philanthropy by linking up the charities she works with and encouraging collaboration. Her advice on getting started with philanthropy: “Don’t rush into investing on a single focal project until you understand the sector. Business interests, family members and advice from your wider network bring valuable perspective on finding the right projects to support”
At a similar time, my work began with the NSPCC when my husband and I were living in Staffordshire, close to the JCB factory. Children and the communities that raise them have always been close to my heart and we wanted to find a way that our family and the employees of JCB could work together to help local, vulnerable children.
The focus was never just about raising money. It was vital for me to know that the funds were spent at a local level and the benefits were felt by Staffordshire children and families in need. As a company, we have since raised over £2 million for the NSPCC – much through fundraising initiatives spearheaded by JCB employees – and I feel incredibly proud that every single penny is being invested back into Staffordshire.
What is the focus of your philanthropy and how did you go about identifying it?
There are two beautiful quotes which convey my way of thinking. One is ‘the earth is not a gift from our parents, we are only borrowing it from our children’. The other is a traditional African proverb, ‘it takes a village to raise a child’. This is as true in Britain as it is in Africa.
It was with this in mind that I launched the Daylesford Foundation in 2007, to educate children and young
What has been your approach to learning about the issues you support?
I have been
From the beginning, I felt that it was important to focus on women and children, and in 2001 we established a charity to provide teachers and infrastructure to a school close to the JCB factory in Haryana. Through educating children, we quickly
By adopting a small number of villages, we were able to focus on clear objectives: to improve education, help eradicate local poverty, provide sanitation,
Setting up vocational training for the women in the villages has meant that mothers are able to stay close to their families whilst they earn an income. They can be self-sufficient with skills they have
With regard to the Daylesford Foundation, every day we learn of something new in the headlines about the deterioration of health, weather extremes, wildlife decline, modern slavery, pollution, poverty and so on. Food and farming are immersed in these global phenomena and, just as the industry’s influence can be negative, if done considerately it can have a positive impact.
There is no shortage of inspiration to draw upon each day. Patrick Holden, Satish
Seven years ago, I decided to put more structure into the Daylesford Foundation. We formed an advisory board to help inform the direction of our donations. The Grants Board includes the widely respected food writer and journalist Rose Prince and the astute businessman Ewan Venters, CEO of Fortnum and Mason. Together with my daughter
How has your strategy evolved over time?
When the Daylesford Foundation first started we were reactive. We answered appeals and supported
Sixteen valued grantees and a great deal of discussion later, we found a specific area that was under-funded and in desperate need of support. Education in sustainable food consumption was relatively well represented but practical information on sustainable farming was much harder to come by; there was conflicting ‘best practice’ and no common voice.
With this in mind, in 2015 the Daylesford Foundation launched
Have you ever been particularly pleased with a donation?
The launch of
For the NSPCC in
Are your family involved in your philanthropy?
My daughter Alice has always been a Daylesford Foundation Trustee and she brings a great deal of experience from her own biodynamic farm and educational work. We learn from each other. I am immensely proud of what she has established in California.
My daughter-in-law Leonora founded My Baba, a parenting blog. She is also on the Grants Board. Alice and Leonora bring a fresh understanding of food and nutrition for children, so I have no doubt the legacy will run on through the generations. My grandchildren are a great source of inspiration to me.
Can you tell us about your experiences and expectations of working with
The Daylesford Foundation’s early days of reactive
There is an incredibly rich culture of charity in the UK with many people investing their time and resources for a good cause. We found that there was quite a lot of repetition in some areas while other sectors, such as the research and sharing of sustainable farming methods, were not so well supported. Repetition can be avoided by linking up charities or referring to projects that we already support. Philanthropy can be more than simply writing cheques. As the Foundation matures, we recognise the value in sharing our experiences, and we encourage grantees and other grantors to work collaboratively too.
Another lesson I have learned is the importance of focusing on specific projects. For me this is essential. People are very generous by nature. When they see the results that their kindness brings they will be more inclined to continue helping.
What are your plans for developing your philanthropy in the future?
The Agricology project is beginning to run on a sustainable footing, with increasing contributions from the experts and a rapidly growing community of support. Having established a platform and an audience of farmers willing to listen, we are now in a position to encourage and motivate others to support this sparsely funded area.
We would like to see more investment in the research and practical application of sustainable farming. We want to see a better future for pollinators. We wish to see soils given the care they deserve, not just for producing nutritious, healthy crops but also to combat climate change, flooding and droughts. And we intend to motivate the next generation of farmers and researchers in sustainable agriculture.
What advice would you give to other people who have the capacity to give and are at the beginning of their philanthropy journey?
Don’t rush into investing on a single focal project until you understand the sector. Business interests, family members and advice from your wider network bring valuable perspective on finding the right projects to support. Collaboration is an excellent vehicle to amplifying impact, whether other funders or organisations on the ground.
Looking forward, what do you think will be the most significant challenges or opportunities for your philanthropy?
British Farming is about to undergo an enormous shake-up as the UK leaves the European Union. There has never been a better opportunity to re-shape the future of food production and we intend to play a leading role in ensuring accurate information and knowledge is available.
Discover more about the Daylesford Foundation here
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