This is not America

July 8, 2010

While the sentiment behind requiring vice-chancellors to bring in philanthropic income equal to three times their salaries every year is laudable, that is the only thing that is ("Heads must show that charity begins at the top", 1 July). Besides the obvious fact that the US is a different culture, how are UK vice-chancellors supposed to gain experience as fundraisers in a country with a poor record of giving that is about to enter years of austerity?

When we were trying to raise the money to start the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, the biggest private-sector gift wasn't a gift, it was sponsorship and it came from Germany. I'm afraid you can't speak generally about institutions either. Some are prestigious and attract all sorts of goodies, while others aren't and frankly are unlikely to. The incentive of matched funding is promising, but was it successful the last time round (the results don't appear to have been published)?

If this country wants to emulate US philanthropy, the key change, as we all know, would be to incentivise giving through tax reform.

Mark Featherstone-Witty, Founding principal/CEO, The Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts.

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