Philanthropy – The North East Story

This paper surveys the history of philanthropy in the North East of England over a period of more than 900 years, from the time the North East was brought under Norman control (thirty years or so after the Conquest of 1066) down to the present. We paint a broad picture of the role philanthropy has played in the region across the ages, and demonstrate how past endeavours continue to enrich present lives. On the basis of the evidence presented we draw 10 main conclusions: (1) The North East has a long and rich history of philanthropy; (2) There are distinctive aspects to philanthropy in the North East stemming from the concentration of power in the hands of the Bishops of Durham and the merchant community of Newcastle; (3) Enterprise is the motor force of philanthropy; (4) Philanthropy is a major source of social innovation; (5) Social activism is essential to the success of philanthropic ventures; (6) Philanthropy is not just about mega-donors. (7) Prestigious institutions are magnets for philanthropy; (8) Institutions founded on philanthropy must adapt to survive; (9) Philanthropy is a two-way street: improving the lives of beneficiaries while a source of intense satisfaction for donors; (10) Philanthropy in the past lives on in the present. We conclude by answering four fundamental questions about the past, present and future of philanthropy, and present a summary table highlighting the main domains of philanthropy across the more than nine centuries.