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Philanthropy is a mixture of emotion and data

In our latest edition of Julius Baer’s True Connections podcast, Calum Brewster speaks with Marcelle Speller OBE, Founder and Chairman of Brevio – the social enterprise on a mission to digitise and standardise UK third sector grant applications – about her journey into philanthropy, the challenges charities are facing in the UK and how data can help philanthropists ensure funds are directed efficiently to where they are needed most.




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Click on the player below to hear Calum and Marcelle’s conversation:

True Connections podcast: Philanthropy is a mixture of emotion and data


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  • Marcelle’s introduction to philanthropy started in childhood having been inspired by her mother’s work at the Dutch Consulate in Manchester, which continued through her university days, collecting food for local homeless shelters. But it wasn’t until the nineties when posting an advertisement in The Sunday Times to rent her cottage in Ireland, that Marcelle’s journey as an entrepreneur and innovator began.  While the newspaper ad was unsuccessful, this sparked the idea to set up Europe’s first holiday rentals website,

    The holiday rentals industry may not be synonymous with the third sector but Marcelle still managed to find ways to help those less fortunate, as she explains in her conversation with Calum. But it was the sale of in 2005 that allowed Marcelle to really do something, as she describes, “worthwhile”.

    This began with setting up her next venture, Local Giving, a company with a goal to help local charities get online donations that went on to raise £25m. It was this time at Local Giving that made Marcelle realise that, even with the rise in online donations, charitable grants were getting more complicated and more competitive. 

    As Marcelle explains, £700m a year is wasted by charities writing unsuccessful grant applications. This is what Marcelle’s current company, Brevio, is seeking to solve by standardising the currently cumbersome process and harnessing the wealth of data on the issues communities are facing today. As Marcelle rightly says, people don’t get into charity work to fill in grant application forms, they do it to make life better for other people.


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