Letter From The Chief Executive – Sam Howard
Welcome to the first Rosetrees Trust Newsletter. I started as Chief Executive in March 2011 and I have joined a fantastic foundation, supporting projects that will improve everyone’s life. Having come from a business and legal background I was struck by Rosetrees’ venture philanthropy approach, which combines an entrepreneurial and business minded approach to funding – long term investment and seed funding – alongside personal involvement to make more of a difference. Rosetrees is a charity but it works on business focussed lines.
On a balmy late September evening last year Rosetrees met with its advisory panel, a five strong group of UK’s leading researchers. The panel provide an invaluable source of feedback, guidance and support to Rosetrees. I was struck when the panel said that Rosetrees was unique. Unique in its style of providing support for cutting edge medical research enabling projects to start or continue; which otherwise wouldn’t have been able to; leading to tens of millions of pounds of additional funding. Helping young researchers to stay in medical research will bring an enormous benefit for patients, the UK economy and society at large. This is an extremely powerful motivator as we look to drive Rosetrees forward.
The last few months have seen both recognition as well as evidence of Rosetrees’ impact. Richard Ross, our chairman and founder of Rosetrees, has been awarded Spears’ Philanthropist of the Year, which is a testament to the work he does. The 2011 Coutts Million Pound Donors report features Rosetrees’ philanthropic story and the success of the venture philanthropy and co-donor model. As a result, The Sunday Times featured Richard and Rosetrees Trust on 11 December 2011.
It has been an amazing year. I now find myself overseeing support for over 180 cutting edge research projects, where funding as a result of our support passed the £50 million mark and is well on the way to £100 million. With the support of co-donors, our target is to bring in £1 billion to medical research within 25 years. So stay tuned and help us to make more of a difference to humanity.
Richard Ross Wins Philanthropist of the Year
Spears stated that the award was for an individual who had undertaken outstanding philanthropic activity during 2010-11. They are recognised for their contribution to philanthropy, their vision and their innovation. Nominees included Dame Vivien Duffield and Lord Harris of Peckham.
Richard stated that the award was recognition for Rosetrees and the team, which works hard to find and support cutting edge medical research.
Richard Ross Featured in 2011 Coutts Million Pound Donors Report
Richard Ross featured in the 2011 Coutts Million Pound Donors Report published on the 1st December. The
author Beth Breeze of Kent University stated that Rosetrees and Richard’s philanthropic story is a highlight of the report.
The Report revealed that in 2009/10 there were 174 separate donations worth £1 million or more, made by
UK donors or given to UK- based charities. The total value of these donations was £1.3 billion.
A total of 80 of the 174 donations were made by private individual – who remain the most significant source of these donations. They contributed £782 million, or 60% of the total value of £1.3 billion.
The tough economic times are illustrated by the report highlighting that the above figures represent the lowest number of both donations and total value since the report started in 2006/07.
The Report also threw light on the wider trends in Philanthropy and Richard Ross’ article later in the newsletter sheds an interesting light on it.
First Step Toward Treatment for Painful Flat Feet
His exciting research was published in January 2012 in the medical journal Neurobiology of Ageing, focusing on whether vitamin D prevented inflammation and the accumulation of proteins in mice.
Professor Glen Jeffrey, explains that “tiny blood vessels that supplied the retinas became clogged with debris over time, while they also became inflamed. Both processes narrowed them. In humans this can result in a decline of up to 30 per cent in the numbers of light receptive cells in the eye by the time we are 70 and so lead to poorer vision. However, when one year-old mice were given vitamin D supplements – safflower oil containing 0.9 micrograms of vitamin D every three days – deposits of a toxic molecule called amyloid beta were reduced. The mice showed an associated improvement of vision.”
It is too early to say whether Vitamin D gained either through diet, sun exposure or supplements would prevent AMD in humans as there have not yet been trials in humans. However it is an exciting discovery that Vitamin D is a route to avoiding the pace of age-related decline in mice and it could be useful in helping to prevent a range of age-related health problems, from deteriorating vision to heart health.
New Addition to the Rosetrees Team
His experience will support Rosetrees’ rapidly increasing live medical research portfolio. Richard is married with two young boys and is an Arsenal supporter. Well we can’t all be perfect! Anyway a big welcome to Richard.
Exciting Plans for 2012
2012 is going to be an extremely exciting year for Rosetrees. As we enter Rosetrees’ 25th Anniversary Year it is a time to both look back and celebrate what has been achieved and look ahead to giant steps forward for
Rosetrees. We are told by our UK advisory panel of leading professors that what we do is unique and our policy of small seed corn grants has led to follow on grants of nearly £60m. With your help and co-donors help we believe that in the next 25 years this could grow to £1 billion. A big ask but we are committed to making real improvements to human health through medical research.
This year will see Rosetrees support a flagship programme with the Royal College of Surgeons to develop a nationwide research infrastructure to develop and expand the surgical clinical trials portfolio over the next 5 years and train the future surgical leaders of tomorrow.
Unfortunately the development of clinical research in surgery has lagged behind that of nonsurgical disciplines. At the present time, clinical trials in all surgical disciplines comprise only 10% of those being undertaken just in cardiology.
Rosetrees has agreed in principle to support one of the new clinical trials centres which will aim to: develop
new researchers, increase the critical mass of surgical trials and make access to trials easier for researchers and patients. This will be Rosetrees largest ever grant and we are looking forward to working closely with the RCS and Professor Dion Morton to see successful clinical trials come to fruition.
At the same time Rosetrees is working closely with other individuals and institutions within the UK and abroad to put in place exciting collaborations and funding for outstanding researchers.
Rosetrees is also busy looking at exciting ways to mark its anniversary and there will be more in our next edition.
Rosetrees Funds 183 Projects this Financial Year
Rosetrees is currently funding 183 live research projects across all the major illnesses, of which 32 will end this financial year. The number of projects has grown dramatically since February 2011, when Rosetrees was supporting 94. We are supporting outstanding researchers whether established, or young and promising with the potential to become future leaders in their field. The graph below shows the number of donations made this financial year to date by illness type. This compares to the top five areas of research by value which are:
2) brain research
3) blind and deaf
4) stroke heart and lung
5) stem cells / tissue engineering
In the last financial year, total donations made were £1m and we are hoping to increase this to £2m this financial year 2011-12.
The Sucess of Rosetrees’ Venture Philanthropy Model
Since Rosetrees’ establishment twenty five years ago, about £60 million has been invested in world class research, either from Rosetrees or the major grants that followed from Rosetrees’ initial support . This is well on the way to the first target of £100 million for major medical research, encouraged by Rosetrees’
Chairman’s View on Philanthropy
A recent report published by Coutts and the University of Kent has shown that private individuals gave away a total of £782m in the financial year 2009-10. The report is a fascinating insight into why and the way people give in these turbulent economic times, offering important lessons for those who want to encourage the growth of philanthropy in the UK. As is traditionally the case, universities, museums and other cultural organisations received a large proportion of the year’s philanthropic giving. This has always been the way for the very wealthy to make their mark on the world, and as a result the lobbies of museums and galleries in London, New York and other major cities are plastered with plaques honouring many generous donors. Every wing and every room bears the hallmark of a worthy family foundation, and named scholarships preserve an individual’s legacy for decades to come. These organisations touched long ago on the key to securing major donors: allow them to make a tangible impact; to put their name to something real. The names Guggenheim and Carnegie are still synonymous with philanthropy, many years after their deaths.
Over recent years this model has been adapted as new ways of engaging with giving and obtaining value and satisfaction from it have appeared. Donors are motivated by having a personal relationship with the cause, and a feeling of involvement and interaction. They want to know exactly where the money is going and the difference it is making. The wealthy in this period of economic woes have been looking beyond their alma maters and the world’s prestigious art galleries, and extending these same principles to wider giving. This is reflected in the Coutts report, which demonstrates significant increases in local and active giving. This phenomenon has a name: ‘venture philanthropy’. By applying a strategic and business minded approach to funding – long term investment and seed funding alongside personal involvement of the donor – the wealthy are extending their giving to numerous new causes and making more of an impact.
This means channeling their giving into something that will generate results and allow them to have a relationship with the cause, whether that is by funding a specific programme, scaling an existing charity, or an individual job role. There’s a marked difference between this and a generic donation to a charity, which will be split up and spent on vital but far less measurable activities. More and more foundations and charities are beginning to introduce this model, with incredible success. For example Impetus Trust uses a venture philanthropy approach. Along with Sutton Trust they have been backed by a £125m grant from the department of education to establish and manage the new Education Endownment Foundation (EEF). Rosetrees, the foundation my parents established in the early 1980s, applies a strategic and business like approach to the field of medical research, providing seed corn funding and developing close working relationships with individual researchers. £1.9 m of Rosetrees funding has led to in excess of £57m in follow on grants from major funders who want to support the cutting edge medical research that Rosetrees help get off the ground. Co-donors come to us with a scientific area they are particularly interested in, and we identify outstanding researchers who have the potential to become the leaders in their fields. The donors are able to receive regular progress reports and even to meet with the researchers. They truly feel that their money has made an impact. Rosetrees supports Prof Molly Stevens whose tissue engineering work has led to clinical products that enable the body to produce new bone tissue to repair bony defects. This trend of strategic giving is being seen at every level of giving, with more and more charities hooking onto the public’s desire for tangibility through ‘good giving’ websites, such as Oxfam Unwrapped.
In these tough economic times we need to convince the wealthy that they have a responsibility to give. This country is seeing a growing divide where the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. The professors I meet don’t earn as much as a banker’s secretary and yet they are passionate, committed and totally immersed in their journey of discovery. I want to change the rich’s mentality toward philanthropy so that they give more. Perhaps new models of giving such as venture philanthropy are a way of convincing the wealthy to give more.
Royal College of Surgeons Rosetrees Prize Winner 2011
The annual award of the Rosetrees Prize has become an important part of the Royal College of Surgeons Diplomates Ceremony. The Rosetrees Prize is given for the RCS Fellowship Project that is closest to patient benefit.
The 2011 winner was Emma Carrington for her study of how techniques to measure brain activity can improve nerve stimulation to treat bowel incontinence, a condition which destroys quality of life for millions of people.
Rosetrees in the News
Richard Ross and Rosetrees were featured in the Sunday Times (11 December 2011) as Richard is part of a 174- strong club of donors who have given £1m or more to charity in a year according to Coutts’ Million Pound Donors Report 2011. Rosetrees unique model was specifically mentioned.
“Richard Ross, chairman of his family’s property financing business, Regentsmead, gave away £1m last year for basic medical research through his family’s charitable foundation, Rosetrees Trust. He told the author of the donors report, Dr Beth Breeze, of the University of Kent, that his co-donor approach to funding — and his willingness not to demand the credit — had resulted in £50m in grants from other donors and could eventually realise an extra £1 billion for medical research”.
Richard Ross and Rosetrees were featured in the UK Giving 2011: An Overview of Charitable giving in the UK 2010/11 by NCVO. The report stated that medical research attracted the highest proportion of donors (38%). Richard was quoted:
“One day a professor wrote to ask for my support for his [research] work and it just clicked a button in my brain. …my mother had given money to a home to look after older people with Alzheimer’s. I thought: what if research could cure people of Alzheimer’s so they didn’t need to go into a home. That would be fantastic… Contributing to this [medical research] work is extremely interesting, constructive and totally worthwhile. With codonors £100 million could expand to £1 billion which would make an amazing difference to millions, if not billions of people, all over the world…”
Rosetrees was featured in the Spears Gift and Giver. The article focussed on Rosetrees but also a researcher who benefited from Rosetrees support. The amazing aspect of this article was that the Professor in question Nick Athanasou of Oxford University actually donated money to Rosetrees. Richard described it as “The best compliment I’ve had this year was when Professor Athanasou, sent Rosetrees a donation. I phoned and
asked him, ‘Why have you done this?’ and he said, ‘Because I think what you do is fantastic, and I want to
support what you do.’ That’s a bit like a top chef coming to eat at your restaurant — and it’s great to know that Rosetrees is funding the best projects”.
Professor Athanasou explained his motivation for the donation:- “One quality that distinguishes Rosetrees is that they actively follow through the money they give to a researcher. They regularly call to check on the progress of your work, arrange visits and develop a genuine dialogue with the researcher. I found this very unusual for a charity. It’s something I really appreciated: they were interested in my work and I was able to explain to them my research aims and what I was doing with their money. These are some of the reasons I decided to make a small donation to Rosetrees. It was not because Rosetrees had given money to me in the past or I was seeking more funding for my research; it was because I believe it is a very well run charity. I appreciate the way Rosetrees employs funds for research and the fact that it takes a great deal of personal interest in the work it funds”.