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July 25, 2023

Colonial capitalism

Lankelly Chase is a funder that I’ve always had a soft spot for. In the early years of DTAS, they provided small grants to communities, in this case development trusts, to test out their enterprising ideas. With a minimum of fuss to apply, and with a clear expectation that some would inevitably go bottom up, it was a pleasure to work with them. An openness and reflectiveness within the culture of the organisation explains to some extent their recent decision to cease being a funder altogether. Lankelly has concluded that ‘traditional philanthropy is a function of colonial capitalism’. Wow.

Robert Armour, TFN

A leading UK foundation has said it will close, citing that traditional philanthropy was dead and is a “function of colonial capitalism.”

Lankelly Chase has assets of £130m and gives some £13m away each year. However, it says it has become part of the problem facing traditional philanthropy and has taken the decision to close itself.

It was the 79th biggest charitable foundation in the UK in 2021, according to the Association of Charitable Foundations, supporting hundreds of charities and community organisations a year.

The 60-year-old foundation said it would spend the next five years giving away its assets to organisations and networks which are doing life-affirming social justice work in communities around the UK.

Trustees were finding it difficult to be fully ethical in the organisation’s mission as it relied on capitalism to grow its investments.

A statement from the board said: “We have recognised the gravity of the interlocking social, climate and economic global crises we are experiencing today. At the same time, we view the traditional philanthropy model as so entangled with colonial capitalism that it inevitably continues the harms of the past into the present.”

It added: “We will relinquish control of our assets, including the endowment and all resources, so that money can flow freely to those doing life-affirming social justice work. We will make space to reimagine how wealth, capital and social justice can co-exist in the service of all life, now and for future generations.”

Lankelly Chase chief executive, Julian Corner, said: “Philanthropy is a function of colonial capitalism, it has been shaped by it, is being driven by it, and yet philosophically it tries to position itself as somehow a cure for the ills of colonial capitalism, and that contradiction needs to stop.”

Lankelly Chase was created from the charitable bequests of entrepreneurs Alfred Allnatt and Ron Diggens, who made millions from north London property development in the middle of the last century.