Family businesses are recognised the world over as a force for good and whilst they are not always the first to shout about their activities, many such as the Matthew Good Foundation (‘MGF’) continue to be active and quietly do some good and make a real difference. Paul Andrews spoke to Tim Good and Michelle Taft to find out more.
So how did it all come about?
As Tim explained, “my Dad sat down with Matt who was Managing Director at the time and I and explained that we were going to inherit the business in due course and asked us what our plans were for the future. Matt wanted to continue to grow the business for future generations and I wanted to explore the creation of a foundation, funded by the family business.”
Plans were well underway to create the foundation, originally as the John Good Foundation, ready for launch later in 2011. As Tim continues, “Sadly and very unexpectedly Matt died whilst running a marathon for charity. He was the 6th generation to work in our family company John Good Group, which has been in business for over 185 years and is still family owned.”
“This had a real impact on all of us. It was obvious that the name had to change and subsequently The Matthew Good Foundation was created and launched.”
The initial plans involved money being put into the Foundation which was added to by staff members raising funds and then it was down to the employees to determine where the funds would be used. The underlying principles of the Foundation were to support causes and charities on behalf of our members, staff in the business, the trustees of the foundation and the shareholders.
In preparing for the new Foundation Tim undertook a course at the Institute of Philanthropy and this lead to the creation of, at the time, some innovative approaches that the Foundation would take.
These core tenets of the Foundation have evolved and today are represented by:
1. Grants for Good – their first fund that invites charities, community interest companies and social entrepreneurs to apply to the Foundation directly for funding.
2. Double Match – members and their immediate family members can apply for up to £2,000 in double match funding when they raise funds for charity.
3. Donation Matching – for members that choose to donate their own money to charity, they match their charitable donations up to a maximum value of £2,000.
4. Championing – members can nominate small charities or local initiatives to receive a Championing Grant up to £500; or £1,000 if they volunteer for the cause.
5. Grass Roots Funding – a grassroots application allows members to directly support an issue, cause or project that they are passionate about by starting their own project.
The structure of the Foundation is simply and effectively managed too with one member of staff in each of their regional offices responsible for championing the Foundation and engaging with employees, reviewing and approving applications and uploading them to a central management platform.
Over the years the Foundation has grown and funds donated by a share of profits from the family business. In 2019, Michelle, who had already been working with the core family business in a marketing and communications role, was recruited to develop and grow the Foundation.
Clearly, already appreciating the underlying values of the family firm, she made an impact straight away. As she explains, “This is a great opportunity because there is such a lot going on. As a Foundation we predominantly work in the UK with small local charities and good causes. However, we are also involved in a number of international projects including the Philippines, Honduras, India and Africa.”
“This family business recognises it has a responsibility to both society and to the environment in which it works and philanthropy is an integral part of our family values & purpose too.”
For Tim, the role of the Foundation is important in a number of ways. As he explains, “The Matthew Good Foundation is important me for Matt, in terms of his legacy for sure, but also as it was something that we were working on together before he passed away. It was important to see it through and today it is great to see the impact that it is already having too.”
“There is also a tangible edge to the Foundation too. As good corporate citizens of a family firm that employs 350 staff and has been in operation for over 188 years, we have a duty to run the business properly and Corporate Social Responsibility, Governance and Philanthropy all have a role to play in doing so. Having the Foundation is another dimension as this is not a formal requirement but something that we want to do and have actually set out as a plan to undertake,” continues Tim.
“Over time, our long-term intentions are to build up the Foundation and create an endowment that would enable it to become entirely financially sustainable, forever, and continue the work that has already been started. It would then become a real force for good in its own right, irrespective of what the future holds for the family business,” he adds.
At the time of the conversation with his Dad when the concept was just an idea, Tim had a vision to go off and run his own business and an ambition to move into the philanthropic world and as time has gone by, this dream has certainly become a reality.
The Foundation was created to support John Good Group employees in making a difference to good causes close to their hearts. Since 2011, they have made a major impact supporting good causes in the UK and abroad.
- £470,000 donated since 2011
- £85,000 donated in 2020
- Staff engaged
- 300 causes supported
This is a Foundation that has quietly over the years made a difference to the causes and charities that have been supported and for Tim and Michelle there have been a number of key projects that have really resonated with the values and aims underlying its creation.
As Tim explains, “For me, being involved in the project that helped to create the International Institute of Race Medicine was a key milestone. Matt passed away whilst running a marathon and this organisation, supported by the leading marathon races across the world, has created a book of best practice to help all race organisers take steps to help preventable deaths during races. It makes a massive difference by collaborating and sharing best practice and will be a key part of Matt’s legacy too.”
As Michelle adds, “We also got involved with a project in India that involved visiting and creating a film about the impact of the innovative work that they were doing. It made a major impact in terms of establishing their credibility as an organisation, showcasing what they do, and as well as raising their profile and endeavours to make a difference, they have already benefitted with significant donations too.”
Tim agrees and adds, “It is not just about the major projects or key milestones as we need to recognise the broader impact. We have opened up the world of philanthropy to people that would never have thought they could be involved – a number of our staff have become philanthropists and continue to make an impact on society through their engagement with the Foundation and that is great to see.
And what about the future?
Family firms are genuinely interested in their stakeholders and the communities in which they operate and many have been supporting projects and causes for many years. Many quietly go about just doing their bit. Through the work of the Foundation Tim appreciates that there are opportunities for them to share what they have learned with others and there is now a real desire to move things up a level.
As Tim explains, “We have the knowledge that others can benefit from and we are considering a number of projects to pool resources, collaborate with other foundations and to share best practice, helping others to get involved more and to learn from others. There is plenty of scope for us to help smaller charities and causes through marketing and communication too. We have lots of ideas and really do want to help others where we can.”
We look forward to seeing the continuing impact of the Mathew Good Foundation and their plans for the future. They have created a fantastic legacy for Matt and a Foundation that continues to build on their collective plans back when it was just an idea.
This is one enterprising charitable trust funded by a British family business making an impact at home and abroad. It is great to see family firms embracing their role in society and making a real difference and this is one legacy that really does look set to continue long into the future.