Monday 6 June 2016 4:45 am

The City’s philanthropic heritage is a powerful draw for values-led millennials

Tom Welsh is City A.M.'s business features editor.

Tom Welsh is City A.M.'s business features editor.

The City of London has a proud tradition of philanthropy dating back to the Middle Ages, and philanthropy is the reason that our Square Mile – the world’s pre-eminent global financial centre – exists as we know it.

From schools to sanitation, and from hospitals to housing for vulnerable people, many of my forebears as lord mayor, London’s livery companies, and heads of businesses across the centuries made priceless investments in our community through targeted funding and endowments, some of which continue to reap dividends for public good and charitable causes today.

We want London to remain at the forefront of philanthropic giving and innovation – for the benefit of generations to come. City workers – particularly the millennial generation and younger – are increasingly passionate about the positive impact that their firms, and they themselves as employees, are having on our society.

Read more: It’s official: Why doing good by your employees boosts stock performance

The best and the brightest want to work for responsible businesses, who encourage and empower their staff to give back. Philanthropy has the power to meet urgent societal needs, galvanise a new generation to be a force for good, and embed values which will maintain the competitive edge of London’s workforce.

That is why the City of London Corporation’s charitable funder, City Bridge Trust, is funding City Philanthropy, a powerful, pertinent initiative which aims to encourage and celebrate the giving of time, skills and funding in the City.

City Philanthropy has launched an Ambassadors Programme which will feature over 100 City leaders championing the tremendous importance, and value, of London’s leadership in philanthropy, for the benefit of our communities and of our culture.

As demonstrated in City Philanthropy’s More To Give reports, commissioned from Cass Business School, both employers and employees are increasingly committed to responsible business. The reports explored the attitudes of London millennials to giving, and the philanthropic action they are undertaking.

Read more: Financiers are the most generous

We found that half of under-35s want to work for companies which prioritise social and environmental value, as well as business success and profit.

We found that 35 per cent of under-35s want to give more money than they already do.

And we found that over half of under-35s want to volunteer more than they do – in fact, 60 per cent want to volunteer more in the 18-24 age group.

In every case, there is a dramatic difference between the philanthropic aspirations of millennials, and those who are older. The younger generation are more demonstrably aligned with the responsible attitude of Unilever, whose chief executive Paul Polman has said: “Business cannot succeed in societies that fail.”

These figures support what we hear in many other reports focused on millennials – that they are values-led and have a strong desire to be more than just valuable employees; they seek purpose beyond profit.

I am delighted that City Philanthropy’s Ambassadors Programme will provide a stimulus and model for philanthropy and I would encourage all our City leaders to find out more. By adding your voices as City Philanthropy Ambassadors, you will empower your employees and young City professionals to help provide the direction and encouragement that they are asking for.

A values-led workforce, who seek purpose beyond profit, is in all our interests.

For more information on City Philanthropy and the Ambassadors Programme, please visit

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