In this occasional series of interviews with the City's leading philanthropists we aim to bring guidance and inspiration to others.
Stephanie Brobbey is a 29 year old private client solicitor at Goodman Derrick LLP. Born and raised in West London she read law at Cardiff University and College of Law, Bloomsbury. Stephanie is a trustee of The Funding Network and youth charity E:Merge.
What does philanthropy mean to you?
There are lots of different definitions of philanthropy but to my mind philanthropy is all about strategic giving of one’s resources in order to effect change or empower others to facilitate change in the world.
How would you describe your philanthropy and what is your goal?
My philanthropic pursuits are on a relatively small scale but are consistent and effective. My goal is to play a small part in effecting transformation around the world. I am particularly passionate about empowering people to discover their identity and unleash their full potential.
What was your first experience of philanthropy?
I first encountered philanthropy (as I define it) while volunteering at a fundraising dinner for Resurgo, an inspiring London based organisation helping disadvantaged people. I was assisting a table host and was blown away by the passion and enthusiasm of the guests and their astounding generosity.
Do you feel you are making a difference? If so how?
Absolutely! Although I am not in the high net worth category, I know that my contributions have an influence, particularly when I am able to see for myself how lives have been impacted. I am a member and trustee of The Funding Network which is a crowd funding charity. It is evident from the crowd funding sessions that ‘seed funding’ raised for a particular project is just the beginning of a new chapter for charities and often it leads to much greater things in terms of their fundamental objectives. Finally, finding out about charities which are often very small and seek to address quite specific issues helps to develop my awareness about issues which can change my attitudes, opinions and behavioural patterns; ultimately this makes a difference in the long term.
What is the biggest challenge you have had to date?
Grappling with wanting to give to a lot more to charities and being aware of my own financial constraints. It is very important to get the balance right. I also found it difficult to end one particular giving relationship which was a cause I had supported for quite some time.
Has your philanthropy had an impact on your personal or professional life?
Yes, absolutely. I am so much more mindful of what is going on globally; it has helped to shape my world view and redefine my personal values. From a professional perspective I have met some very interesting people and developed some great working relationships.
Why is philanthropy important today?
In the vulnerable political and economic climate we face today, charities are increasingly dependent on the generosity of the general public and philanthropists to help them move forward with their objectives and, in some cases, to simply keep operating and stay afloat. Philanthropy has left some powerful legacies and I see it as an important part of our heritage as a nation.
What advice would you give to people starting out on their own journey?
It's a personal journey but sharing it with other people is enriching. Draw inspiration from philanthropic organisations but experiment and be creative too. Find a way of engaging with it which brings you enjoyment and matches your personal interests. Don’t be afraid of starting small and always remember that the spirit of philanthropy is about changing lives.
City Philanthropy and The Funding Network will host the next City Funding Network event on June 4th at Hotel Chocolat. Join us for an evening of crowdfunding and chocolate tasting. Click here to find out more and book your place.