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Paul Cox: Seeing the power of a targeted gift inspired him to create a Donor Advised Fund

Paul Cox with Elaine Miller
Paul Cox with Elaine Miller

What inspires a successful entrepreneur to give something back to his community? We talked to Kingston’s Paul Cox about why he created a Donor Advised Fund. It’s a story of hard work, social conscience and… inspiring shoes.

What made you want to give back to your community?

I was born in Kingston but then moved away for some time. When I returned I set up my own business, which was very successful and grew substantially over 30 years.

I became part of the business establishment and was involved in the community through groups such as the Rotary Club. Kingston was very kind to me and I felt it was important to pay back people in the neighbourhood that had treated me so well.

Why did you choose a Donor Advised Fund and endowment?

I had considered setting up my own charity for some time but when I found out about the Donor Advised Fund model at The London Community Foundation it seemed like an excellent alternative.

Once I discovered the tax benefits, the added benefit of Gift Aid and the fact that there is match funding available it made it a no brainer!

I like the longevity and sustainability that an endowment provides. I have two daughters who I hope will continue to be involved with my fund well in to the future and I know that the fund will keep providing support to communities as well.

What influenced you in deciding how or why to give?

I come from a working class background and worked hard to build up a successful business. I always encourage people to give new opportunities a go.

My family have been brought up in an entrepreneurial environment and this is something I hope to inspire in those that my money helps too. I believe you can be successful in business and be socially conscious and that this mindset can help both charities and businesses.

What do you hope to achieve and what inspired you?

My daughter has an ethical fashion business that works to improve the lives of people in Kenya. This has shown me that a relatively small investment can lift whole families out of poverty – for every one job she creates it takes seven people from the extended family, out of poverty.

When she first set out she worked with a man who made sandals. When he made a size 7 they fitted perfectly and sold very well but for some reason his other sizes were not such a good fit. When she asked him why this was he said it was because he only had a last for a size seven and he had to estimate the other sizes.

She asked him how much a set of lasts costs and he said £20. So she bought him a set and he gradually paid her back. A year later when she saw him again his wife was overwhelmed with gratitude; that £20 investment had helped to create a thriving business that now supports the whole family.

This is the kind of difference I would like to make here in London, making small loans to people to create their own businesses and improve their own livelihoods.

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