Anna Southall

ANNA SOUTHALL OBE, BARROW CADBURY TRUST

Anna became a Trustee of the Barrow Cadbury Trust in 1974 and chaired the Board from 1996 to 2006. She worked for 40 years largely, but not exclusively, in the cultural sector for organisations such as the Tate Gallery, the National Museums & Galleries in Wales, and the Museums, Libraries & Archives Council. Anna has held a range of non-executive roles with government advisory bodies and voluntary sector organisations, including nine years as Vice Chair of the Big Lottery Foundation. Her current positions include Vice Chair of the Wales Millennium Centre, Trustee of the Clore Social Leadership Programme and membership of the Government's Spoliation Advisory Panel. She is also on the board of Bristol Together and is the Interim Chair of Arnolfini in Bristol, where she lives.

How did you get involved with philanthropy?

I grew up aware of my family’s public service and philanthropic interests. I always knew about what was then called the Barrow and Geraldine Cadbury Trust, established in 1920, and my parents had also established a more modest, more locally based foundation of their own. I suppose my first real involvement, however, came when I was in my 20s and, with two cousins, joined my grandparents, and my aunts, uncles and mother on the Board of the Trust.

How was philanthropy talked about in your family?

Philanthropy wasn’t ever a word that was used in the family. It was a word that Barrow himself really didn’t like and he never regarded himself as a traditional ‘philanthropist’. ‘Public service’ was something I grew up understanding and it was something that was talked about over the supper table. My parents both did a lot of work as local councillors and were also very involved with the charity that is now called Relate. So they were not only giving money, but they were also giving time, behaving in a way that might loosely be described as philanthropic. My mother was particularly involved in the Southfield Trust, a project set up and funded by the Barrow Cadbury Trust, to do with providing supportive accommodation to young men coming out of borstals. I particularly remember being fascinated by discussions about its work. 

How did your parent's own foundation come about?

Barrow’s son Paul, my grandfather, had four children who became trustees of what is now the Barrow Cadbury Trust. As I understand it, he did two things to introduce them to the responsibilities of trusteeship. He established the Southfield Trust that I have mentioned and made the four of them trustees. They made decisions, supported by an advisor, and then reported on progress to the main Trust. So this was part of their training as trustees. Paul also gave each of them some money to establish independent foundations of their own. That Trust established by my parents still exists and - alongside my mother - my sister, myself and our four children are trustees. Its remit is quite different from that of Barrow Cadbury, and it’s very good way for the next generation to develop an interest in giving, and focus on issues that concern them on a personal level.

What was the motivation for establishing the Barrow Cadbury Trust?

The tradition of philanthropy within Quakerism is probably as old as Quakerism itself. Both Barrow and Geraldine came from Quaker families. They didn’t establish the Trust until 1920, but they were funding schools, hospitals, children’s courts and the beginnings of the probation service in Birmingham in the first two decades of the 20th century. 

So I suppose their motivation was partly because of Quaker values, partly because they saw need around them in Birmingham, and partly just the sheer fact that the chocolate business was booming and Barrow became a very wealthy man, so it was also a question of how to make the best use of all this money. 

There were good personal relations between the Rowntrees and the Cadburys, despite being competitive in a business sense. When my mother was a child, the Rowntrees and the Cadburys all holidayed on Anglesey and used to meet up there, so there was clearly a lot of exchange. I imagine that in formally establishing the Trust, Barrow must have been influenced by Joseph Rowntree who had set up his foundation twenty years earlier.

It’s also interesting that, albeit for slightly different reasons, they both established a non-charitable fund. Barrow did it at least in part to provide annuities, pensions for those who had worked for him and who had carried out Quaker services. A lot of what he and Geraldine were doing - supporting schools, hospitals, children in trouble, providing pensions and so on, happened before the establishment of the Welfare State, and social needs changed in the second part of the century.

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Talk about your philanthropy at home, and not just about what it is that you want it to do, but talk about some of the inspirational projects you’ve been to see

You are a fourth generation trustee at the Barrow Cadbury Trust and the fifth generation are also now involved. Was it always the intention that family would continue to be involved in the Trust?

It was certainly Barrow’s intention, Paul’s intention and I think the intention of the next generation. It’s also our generation’s hope, but as the Trust has become more influential and more professionally run, there’s an awareness that a board needs more than just the goodwill and interest of the descendants of the donor. We’re now on our second wave of non-family trustees and currently have what I think is an effective balance of three non-family trustees and eight trustees who are family.

How do you handle succession planning for the board?

When Paul, my grandfather was Chairman, he decided that when the three of his grandchildren had reached the age of 25 he would like them to start being trustees. One didn’t say no! In time, more of my cousins joined, but not all of them wanted to. Up until recently that’s how it’s been - we have said anyone who wants to join the board can – it’s been sort of like a birth right. But we now realise that we can’t go on like that so our Chair is planning a ‘next-gen’ day - an open day for any descendants aged 18 and over who are interested - to come and learn about the Trust, what it does and how it does it. Of course you can learn a lot from family members who are on the board, but there’s nothing like going to the office and meeting staff at the Trust to understand why it is we work the way we work and, importantly, what their role is as professional staff and what a trustee’s role is.

We’re open to any descendant showing an interest in becoming a trustee, but we’re clear about what at any one time the skills gaps are. And we now try to ensure that people get experience of volunteering elsewhere before joining the board, which is something the staff can usually enable for those who are interested.

Is there anything distinctive about being a family foundation that influences the way you approach your giving?

Well for one thing, as family members we can be in it for the long-term - you don’t do six years as a trustee and then disappear, although of course you can and some have. Members of the family don’t bring personal agendas into the work the trust is doing either – they bring their expertise and their knowledge. And what’s exciting is watching family members broaden their knowledge and experience through being a trustee, and how they take that different insight back into their own working lives. 

I suppose our strategy is helped by the fact that we have been around for some time and we have a really quite small amount of money to give away, so we’re quite focused on what we do and the three programme areas  - criminal justice, migration, and economic justice, alongside the two or three cross-cutting themes, including race and gender - are well established, although there is flexibility within those programme areas. I keep saying to the younger generation, “don’t think you’ve got to stick with criminal justice forever, but don’t pull the plug on the programme when there’s still hope of system change, still more that can be done.”

Over time, how have you managed to continue to fulfil the legacy and the values of the founders of the Trust while staying relevant to today's society?

I think in our case, the fact that our family values and the values we bring to the Trust are aligned with Quaker values has made that easy, and it’s powerful. We are not now all Quakers, and our staff are of diverse faiths and none. But we feel that the values of our founders are as relevant today as they were a century ago, and they continue to shape the way we work. These are all quite ‘Quakerly’, and go through our work like the words in a stick of rock. 

In terms of relevance today, external factors may make you think that we no longer need to do certain things and we can look to move the money somewhere else. On the other hand there are areas, criminal justice is the obvious example, where you start on something and stick at it because incrementally you can make a difference. Some issues don’t seem to change much. Geraldine’s concerns about the justice system are little different from our concerns today. On the other hand, I remember my uncle, who was the Chairman at the time, saying in the early 1990s that issues around migration were going to be the big issue for this country in the coming decades. I’m not sure he ever had any idea quite how big an issue it would be, but we established a brand new programme, AIR – Asylum, Immigration and Resettlement. It was a small initiative to begin with, but it’s now grown in to one of our three programme areas. 

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Their motivation was partly because of Quaker values, partly because they saw need around them in Birmingham

Are there any grants that you have made that have really excited you?

For me it has to be the establishment of the Transition to Adulthood Alliance, which is an alliance of 14 organisations working with young adults in the criminal justice system.

It’s an example of how powerful it can be to convene organisations over the long term that are working in different areas such as policy, practice and advocacy. We have been working together, commissioning research and funding and evaluating pilot programmes and have produced a significant body of evidence of causes, needs and what can work better that continues to be of considerable interest to policy makers and politicians.

What are your key lessons learned?

We need to ensure a plurality of donors. The world of giving needs givers of different sorts. We are able to be there for the longer term, if that’s what it takes, and I think it’s very important that there are some foundations that can do that. But equally we need other foundations and funders that allocate grants in a wide variety of ways. Their independence is important too.

Learning from things not going well is very valuable. Sometimes we fund things that we think are exciting or interesting, but where we aren’t quite sure whether they’ll work and where they will lead us. So sometimes you don’t end up in the place you wanted to get to, but provided you learn from that process, and share that learning it’s still progress. 

And core funding is increasingly important to the sector. Of course it’s important to make grants responsibly, to fund new things and adapt to change. But right now there are long-established organisations that do really valuable work, and that are struggling. Providing some core or transition support in these cases is an important thing to be able to do. 

How do you work with those who you are funding?

We’re quite engaged as a foundation, but our engagement focuses on the organisations we support through our professional staff. That is not to say that as trustees we don’t visit projects, learn from people and meet beneficiaries - that’s hugely valuable. It’s also profoundly moving and, as a trustee, seeing what that money is doing on the ground makes it really worthwhile. You just need to be sure boundaries are very clear.

What piece of advice would you give to someone at the beginning of their philanthropy journey?

I would be very encouraging. It has been one of the most enriching and influential experiences of my life. I wasn’t the founding philanthropist in the case of the Barrow Cadbury Trust, but if I hadn’t had the experiences gained through trusteeship, I think my own professional career would probably have taken quite a different route. 

What advice would you give for those who want their family and the next generations to be involved?

In terms of encouraging their children, I’d go back to the conversations I heard over the supper table when I was younger. Talk about your philanthropy at home, and not just about what it is that you want it to do, but talk about some of the inspirational projects you’ve been to see. Also talk about your own motivation, your values and the way in which you want the foundation to work – make it normal. I would certainly encourage people to learn from others who have set up their own foundations, but also listen to descendants like me who benefitted from not inheriting the cash – that has possibly been my biggest gift from my grandfather and great-grandfather!

Across all countries covered in this report there is a wealth of experience of major philanthropy. We asked donors to share their advice on giving donations of $1m or more.

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