More than just money; a holistic approach to giving.

Gay Huey Evans is chair of the London Metal Exchange. She also serves on the boards of Standard Chartered, ConocoPhillips, IHS Markit and HM Treasury. Before this, she worked to celebrate British philanthropy through the Beacon Awards, the forerunner to Beacon Collaborative.

We spoke to Gay to learn more about her philanthropy.

gay huey evans

 

What inspired your interest in charity?

My first involvement in charity was as a child. We would stand in doorways asking for donations to the football team or the girl scouts. I am American, so it is commonplace for children there to raise money by knocking on people’s houses and asking for contributions. It embeds the idea that you, as an individual, can help to improve your community’s lot.

Later, I was fortunate to have my university studies partially funded through a grant-based scholarship. When you are on the receiving end of something like that, you become aware that your education is the result of the generosity of others.

I began wondering how I could use the opportunity I was given to help others who had also grown up in low income communities. This led me to join the university alumni board and to give to the annual appeal, which funded scholarships like mine.

 

What is the main focus of your charitable giving?

After university, I set up my own scholarship. Many young people from my hometown do not have great access to higher education and are not encouraged towards it. It is such a massive issue because education is the most important thing in the world – it is the gateway to people becoming the best version of themselves.

The scholarship supports two students per cycle throughout their university studies, opening the door for them to achieve their potential. In time, their careers will enable them to give back to the communities they were raised in. I would love to see this become perpetual, with alumni from each generation supporting those who come after them.

 

Tell us a little about your involvement in the Arts.

Music is very important to me. When people talk about wellbeing and mental health, the question becomes how you get through it. For me, music always helped.

One of my first areas of involvement here was to help a charity which supported young and aspiring singers. Being somebody who loves singing, I found it rewarding to see children raising the bar in creativity and skill each time they were given a new opportunity.

Beyond music, I also give to a wonderful charity which takes young students from underprivileged areas to the theatre. On one occasion, they went to the Royal Opera House and shadowed people from the costume, props and lighting departments. Learning how it all works completely fascinated them. Many young people would never get these opportunities without the work of charities like this.

 

Beyond money, how else do you engage with charities?

I regularly mentor non-profit organisations. The focus is usually around how they can improve their governance or enhance their donor relationships. If charities can be supported to refine their internal and external practices, donors will have more confidence in funding them.

For me, it comes down to using the tools I have available to help a charity thrive. Giving money is great, but it is not the only way to help. Sometimes it is about how you can help a charity to raise more money from others.

 

What advice do you have for a new giver?

Firstly, follow your passion. Give money to something you care about. That is how you will stay engaged in the long-term. Passion will also motivate you to consider how else you can give, beyond only financial contributions.

Secondly, choose your location. Beyond what you give to, there is the question of where. Some people want to give abroad, while others prefer to stay local. It is ultimately your choice, but you should spend time considering geography and how that will affect your giving.