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  1. Impact Philanthropy
December 12, 2012

Spear’s Charity Advent Calendar: The Beth Johnson Foundation

By Spear's

In the run-up to Christmas, Spear’s is highlighting four charities which we recommend you consider supporting. You’ve probably never heard of them, and that’s deliberate. This week is the Beth Johnson Foundation, which funds research and innovative thinking about the lives of older people

Just like investment opportunities, the best charities aren’t necessarily the ones which make most noise or which come to find you. So in the tradition of Advent calendars, each week this Advent philanthropy expert Caroline Fiennes will be showcasing one of the best charities you’ve never heard of.

2. The Beth Johnson Foundation

Active, social, respected and valued: we’d all like to be treated in our ‘senior years’ just as we like to be treated now. The Beth Johnson Foundation works to make that possible – for which it uses a remarkable model and with remarkable success.

It uses its very limited income to fund research and innovative thinking about the lives of older people. From that, it develops practical schemes which can improve older people’s lives and the wider community. It pilots those schemes, and if the pilot works, the foundation develops them with external partners and funders. Often, there’s eventually enough evidence and momentum for the schemes that they get adopted at local, national and international levels.

Read more: Spear’s Charity Advent Calendar Week One

So the Beth Johnson Foundation is more like an R&D house and incubator than a classic charity, operating like a flywheel which spins out useful innovations.

Its impressive list of achievements includes: inventing ‘advocacy’ for older people, which ensures that the views of vulnerable older people are heard and heeded; pioneering work to help people in their 50s and 60s make changes to their lives to ensure a good future as they grow old; and programmes across the UK that bring young and old people to work and socialise together. This ‘intergenerational work’ is so popular that fully two thousand organisations seek the Beth Johnson Foundation’s free advice on it.

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Donations by cheque should be made payable to The Beth Johnson Foundation and sent to The Beth Johnson Foundation, Parkfield House, 64 Princes Road, Hartshill, Stoke-on-Trent, ST4 7JL

To donate electronically or to set up a direct debit, e-mail

The Beth Johnson Foundation is a Registered Charity 1122401

Caroline Fiennes is the director of Giving Evidence, a consultancy, and author of It Ain’t What You Give, a guide to charities and giving well

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