Beth Breeze is Director of the Global Challenges Doctoral Centre, based in the Graduate School, which is dedicated to doctoral research addressing the challenges of economic development and well-being faced by developing countries on the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) list.
Beth Breeze is also Director of the Centre for Philanthropy, which she co-founded in 2008. Beth began her career as a fundraiser for a youth homelessness charity, and spent a decade working in a variety of fundraising, research and charity management roles, including as deputy director at the Institute for Philanthropy. Motivated by the lack of substantive research underpinning practice, Beth completed a PhD on contemporary philanthropy at Kent in 2011, and has been working here ever since.
Beth has written and edited five books, including The New Fundraisers: who organises charitable giving in contemporary society? (2017), which won the AFP Skystone Research Partners book prize. Her latest book In Defence of Philanthropy (2021) offers a robust response, based on both theory and extensive evidence, to the dominant critiques against big giving, She has also written a wide range of research reports including ten editions of the annual ‘Coutts Million Pound Donors Report’.
At Kent, in 2016, she launched a Masters degree programme in Philanthropic Studies. Taught by distance learning to meet the needs of busy professionals, it attracts c.40 students per year seeking higher level career development, as well as a pathway from practice into academia, with a number of MA graduates going on to win PhD funding.
Beth has served as trustee for the Cardinal Hume Centre for young homeless people, as a commissioner on the Commission for the Donor Experience, as publications editor of Philanthropy UK, as a member of the President's advisory council at NCVO; as a member of the Advisory Group of the Charity Tax Commission; and is currently a member of the Women’s Philanthropy Institute Research Committee, Lilly School of Philanthropy, Indiana University, USA.
Beth's research interests focus on philanthropy, fundraising, charitable giving and the charity sector.
She works within the Centre for Philanthropy, which explores philanthropic activities, social patterns of giving and the redistributive impact of transfers from private wealth to the public good. She also has an interest in the impact of philanthropy on social policy and political processes, and vice versa.
Beth’s main focus is on major donors, from both the demand side (fundraising) and the supply side (donors and philanthropists). She researched and wrote ten editions of the Coutts & Co bank-funded annual Million Pound Donor report from 2008 to 2017. She is also interested in collective giving, especially giving circles, and the broader topic of the art and science of fundraising. She has worked on studies of fundraising for ‘unpopular’ causes, philanthropy across the life-course and corporate philanthropy on the shop floor.
From 2008-2013, Beth was part of the ESRC Centre on Giving and Philanthropy. From 2013-2016, she held a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship to undertake a project called 'The Formation of Fundraisers: the role of social skills in asking for money'. This study explored the art of fundraising and the personality traits of successful fundraiser and the findings appeared in her prizewinning book ‘The New Fundraisers: who organises charitable giving in contemporary society?’ published in 2017.
She also received funding from the European Commission to undertake a study of the role of philanthropic fundraising in universities across the European Union.
Beth’s doctoral thesis, completed in 2009, investigates the meaning and purpose of philanthropy in contemporary UK society. Based on secondary analysis of the public statements and giving patterns of 170 of the most significant philanthropists operating in the UK today, it argues that philanthropy is primarily a social relationship between givers and receivers, rather than merely a financial transaction, and that the philanthropic acts of the wealthy are part of a strategy - conscious or otherwise - to find meaning and purpose in their lives whilst creating and communicating a positive identity to themselves, their loved ones and the wider community.
Beth contributes to teaching across the MA Philanthropic Studies programme, and convenes the modules on 'Fundamentals of Philanthropy’ and ‘Advising Donors’
Beth supervises Master’s dissertations on a range of topics related to philanthropy, fundraising and the voluntary sector.
Beth is qualified to lead PhD supervisory teams and is currently supervising PhD students writing theses on: How children learn about charity; Income sources of International Non-Governmental Organisations; The social media presence of small and medium charities; Canadian Settler philanthropy; and National legacy marketing campaigns.
Think Kent lecture videos
Beth is keen to take ideas and research findings to a wide audience. She frequently speaks at charity sector events, contributes to discussions and writes regularly for national and charity sector media.
In addition to the charity sector press, her research has featured on: Radio 4 (including the Today programme, The World at One, You and Yours); Channel 4 News; Regional BBC radio (Kent, Devon, Leeds, London and Scotland); The Financial Times; Daily Telegraph; The Guardian; BBC Online; Guardian Online; New Statesman; Prospect magazine
Five ways charities can attract rich donors, in The Guardian