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  • purposelypodcast

Serving the philanthropy sector, John Pepin

In ancient Greek, the term philanthropy is loosely translated as "loving people." Contemporary usage broadens its scope, ranging from general goodwill towards others to active efforts to enhance human welfare, specifically involving the act of giving money and time.

Globally, individuals engage in philanthropy through various means, generously supporting their fellow citizens to ensure their contributions have a meaningful impact. A significant modern development is the emergence of 'philanthrocrats'—individuals dedicated to assisting others in their giving endeavors. These individuals derive their livelihood from philanthropy, collaborating with organisations and individuals, including families. This trend has led to the rise of professional philanthropy advice and advisors specialising in philanthropy within a broader framework, potentially including financial and legal advice or services. As with any profession, those involved seek inspiration, skills, and knowledge to enhance their effectiveness.

Enter Philanthropy Impact, led by CEO John Pepin, who recently joined Purposely to share their mission of inspiring generosity and impactful philanthropy. This organisation has cultivated a diverse network, including philanthropists, impact investors, trust foundations, and charities. Through training, advocacy, thought leadership, and networking opportunities, Philanthropy Impact strives to create a collaborative space for individuals with different perspectives to foster a deeper understanding.

Despite its small core team of four members, Philanthropy Impact leverages volunteer support and operates remotely. It produces content, specialised training, advocacy, and networking events, It also publishes a magazine, maintains a website, and organises specialised dinners for high-net-worth individuals. 

The organisation origin story traces back to 1998 as the European Association for Planning and Giving, Philanthropy Impact emerged in 2012 from the merger of three organisations with a primary focus on philanthropy. Over time, its scope expanded to encompass the broader spectrum of capital, addressing the convergence of philanthropy, social investment, ESG, and impact investing.

John Pepin joined the organization in 2014 having previously served as a consultant for various charities. Philanthropy Impact aligned with his values and passion for creating a positive impact, the organisation's focus on bringing about change and influencing cultural behavior resonated with him.

Previously John Pepin founded Aperio, a for-purpose company centered on enterprise readiness and support for for-purpose organisations. Operating in Toronto and later expanding to the United States and the UK, Aperio provided consultancy services to strategically enhance organisations and explored innovative approaches, including social investments in Thailand and Indonesia.

John and Purposely's host Mark Longbottom explore blended finance, where philanthropy and social investments come together. Highlighting that although some methods may seem new, similar principles have been around for centuries, showcasing the changing landscape of strategic planning and social investments.

John gives his view on current trends including increasing amounts of funding without restrictions, aligning investments with values, and embracing Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). He points out that we're witnessing a growing awareness of the impact paradigm—weighing harm versus good—and positive developments in the sector.

He also stresses the pivotal role of professional advisors—philanthropy advisors, wealth managers, and legal experts. Philanthropy Impact offers training to seamlessly integrate philanthropy into their services, assist clients on their donor journeys, and navigate the ever-evolving landscape of impact investing.

Understanding the shifting dynamics of philanthropy, there's a rising emphasis on consumer duty in the finance industry. Aligning investments with values is becoming more important, especially as millennials and Gen Z expect advisors to support their values in financial decisions.

Addressing challenges in philanthropy, we talk about the necessity for unrestricted funding, tackling inequities, and handling the complexities of impact investing. 

'I'm optimistic, noting a positive movement, increased awareness, and a change in the giving approach.'

Looking ahead, John is excited about the future of philanthropy. Key developments include a shift towards unrestricted funding, addressing inequities, and evolving perspectives among younger generations. He also emphasize the importance of trust, intuition, and maintaining a balance between rationality and logic.


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