Everything in this world could be better with more women doing it, Cherie Blair tells audience at Norwood Women in Philanthropy reception 
Everything in this world could be better with more women doing it, Cherie Blair tells audience at Norwood Women in Philanthropy reception 
Thu, 16th May 2024

Seventy female philanthropists attended the second Norwood Women in Philanthropy event at a Central London art gallery on Thursday, where they enjoyed a networking reception before hearing from an esteemed panel of female philanthropists including Cherie Blair KC, CBE and Anne Josse, founder of Prism the Gift Fund. 

The reception followed last year’s highly successful inaugural event which once again examined how women can best advocate for community-basic philanthropic causes, as part of the charity’s emerging female philanthropic infrastructure. Last year’s event featured panellists philanthropists Dame Gail Ronson and Nicole Ronson Allalouf, and fundraising consultant Nicky Jones. 

Introduced by Norwood Chief Executive Naomi Dickson, journalist Nicole Lampert chaired the event. 

Cherie Blair talked about how her background has influenced her choices: “I go back to my passion, which is women. I was brought up in a female household with my sister, grandmother and mother. My mother didn’t have the opportunities I had in education and her career came to an end when she had children. That taught me how important it is for them to support themselves, because who knows what will happen. The strength of women always inspires me.” 

Referencing her role as Norwood’s Patron of Children Services, Cherie added: “Disability is still one of the least appreciated forms of discrimination. It’s all about what you can’t do not what you can do. Partly because of my faith-based upbringing, I always thought (charity) was something you should do.” 

Anna Josse spoke of the need to establish ‘building blocks’ to open up funding for philanthropic causes: “When people ask how you raise money and find donors, I say it takes many years of hard graft. Money doesn’t fall from the sky.” On her own experience of establishing Prism the Gift Fund, she added her aim was to “enable more money to get into the sector. We educate clients in the importance of philanthropy, that it’s key to their responsibility today”. 

Both agreed that the ability to govern a charity responsibly has been further impacted by the current challenging economic times. “If you have a passion and a great project, you need to bring in the money and that takes time,” said Anna Josse. “You need a trustee who can open up new opportunities, bit by bit. There’s no magic wand,” she added. 

Cherie Blair added: “Sometimes, rather than starting a new charity and competing for limited funds, find a charity with a shared mission and come together to see what you can achieve. There’s strength in numbers, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel.” 

Nicole Lampert asked panellists their thoughts on the role of faith-based charities in sustaining their communities. Cherie Blair responded: “People of faith have more in common with each other. I’ve always had an affinity with the Jewish community. But also because of my extensive work in disability. I loved the positive and practical nature of the work Norwood does so well.” 

Speaking of the value of a female philanthropic network, Anna Josse said: “My closest friends are from my Jewish youth movement days and it’s very powerful to have a group of women going out into society and supporting each other.” “Nothing in this world wouldn’t be better with more women doing it,” concurred Cherie Blair. 

“Every single one of you can make a difference,” Cherie Blair added. “Never believe your individual actions can’t make a difference. That’s the wonder of democracy. It’s a cumulative effect that really can change things. Each of us doing what we can to make the world a better place – it really does work.” 

Alongside the networking reception and lively panel discussion, a raffle was held, and 300 limited edition prints donated by artist Charlotte Posner were available to buy, with the proceeds going towards supporting Norwood’s vital services for people with learning disabilities and autism and children and their families facing challenges. 

Images taken by Amber Pollack Photography

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