‘There is a much stronger culture of philanthropy in the US’ than the UK

World Finance speaks to Rupert Scofield, President and CEO of FINCA, to find out why he thinks the US is more philanthropic that the UK

December 10, 2014

World Finance: Americans are more generous than Brits, that’s according to my next guest Rupert Scofield.

Tell me, that’s a pretty bold declaration to make, what was it all about?
Rupert Scofield: That there is a much stronger culture of philanthropy in the US. I mean something like 90 percent of US citizens make some kind contribution, whether it’s financial, or volunteering for a charity.

I think the reason that [philanthrophy] isn’t so developed in the UK is that the UK has a much more public service mindset

I think the reason that it isn’t so developed in the UK is that the UK has a much more public service mindset. So I think there’s an attitude by the Brits, well why are you asking me for a contribution? I pay my taxes. That’s the government’s job, to take care of social services.

World Finance: Now the UK is just one country that heavily taxes citizens. If you look across Europe, there’s larger social welfare systems frankly. How are you going to change the psyche of the average European to want to give back as you suggest?
Rupert Scofield: I think it’s a matter of education, Kumutha – and we have to do a much better job measuring and demonstrating our results, and also communicating.

For many years we were just so busy building out our programmes and channelling the money into loans to poor people, and we didn’t care about demonstrating the results or proving the impact. It was so obvious.

World Finance: Do you think this is the future of stemming poverty and corruption in terms of allowing people to transcend some of those local barriers and, like you said, move forward and build?
Rupert Scofield: It is a case, Kumutha, of an essential piece. I mean, how in the world is a country, how is a family going to get ahead if they don’t have access to basic financial services? It’s like water, it’s like oxygen. It’s necessary for development.

It’s not the whole story of course, but it is a big part of the story, and unlocking the enormous productive power of the people around the world.

World Finance: OK, well you’re a great salesman, I’m sure you’ve convinced many. Rupert Scofield, thank you so much for joining me today.
Rupert Scofield: Thanks so much Kumutha.