Michael Cross

Michael Cross

Strategic Advisor

Philanthropy often leads where the State will follow – witness all the social reforms and advances in education, human rights and environmental protection that we owe to committed philanthropists and volunteers.

In a market economy the policies pursued by companies and governments can have huge social consequences that need support and direct action. The State is usually slow and not flexible enough to respond to these market failures. Philanthropy can help bridge the gap and hopefully bring social investment to undo the damage.

My careers are multiple yet simple. I am: an academic who rose to become a Professorial Fellow; an entrepreneur who has set up and run a number of businesses (the largest employs 3,000 people worldwide); an investor whose most recent investment sold for US$440 million; and a supporter of educational and related causes in the UK and South Africa.

The skills I bring to More

I offer business experience of 30+ years to the business of fundraising – and a healthy impatience to help improve the business! My role is also to challenge. To the credit of More Partnership, the firm has listened and acted on my ideas. I truly believe in it as a group of people who try to do the right things for the right reasons.

Other organisations I work with

Why I work with More

There is a major need to improve the effectiveness of fundraising, and I think the mission and work of More Partnership is to do precisely this. The trick is to combine fundraising with a “business model” that works for both the organisation in question and its “marketplace”, so that more innovative ways to generate resources can be developed.

My philanthropic interests

I’ve sat on the Campaign Boards of two leading Russell Group Universities (Edinburgh and UCL) and was a trustee for 20 years of a national charity supporting technical education and training in the polymer industry. I’m currently Chair of the University of Edinburgh’s Carlyle Circle, a legacy-giving group that generates £2 to £4 million per year. I’m also a trustee of Villiers Park Educational Trust, which every year invests £1.2 million in supporting 1,000 able disadvantaged children to gain places at leading universities. In addition, I provide professional advice to two educational charities – one that helps disadvantaged children get into work and another that invests in social enterprises connected with education. Finally, I’m a Liveryman of a City Guild that supports scientific and technical education.

My advice to fundraisers

Be very clear on why you exist (“the need”) and why you are excellent at what you do (“the delivery”). Then get both across in a very clear powerful message to your beneficiaries, potential donors and supporters, and wider influential stakeholders.