The Challenger

Here’s what The Challenger blog is about. Floating ideas for young people and philanthropy. Offering a glimpse of what a little imagination and innovation can do. Telling stories about past, present and future initiatives that go far beyond regular charitable giving or generous gestures.

Giving an insight into why some people take a long-term view, why they are prepared to sacrifice so much of their time and resource over many years. And for what? A strong impulse to help others less fortunate than they are. A conviction that they can’t just leave it to others to act. Based on a personal experience perhaps. Someone they’ve met. Somewhere they’ve been. Something they know. They may be wealthy. They may not be. Some of the world’s most amazing philanthropists have not donated big sums of money. Some are motivated by something they love doing, like sailing. And for many, there’s a mix of conviction, emotions and motivations that come together, resulting in actions that can be an inspiration to us all. If only we knew a bit more about who they are and what their thinking is.

It’s as simple as that. The Challenger will share as many enlightening, unusual and inspiring ideas or tales of philanthropy as possible. It won’t be the place to look for analysis of the latest trends. It won’t be where you read about the complexity of the not-for-profit world. There are already many blogs, website and publications that cover key issues, promoting understanding and awareness. And these are important.

But here, the emphasis is on the remarkable people and initiatives that can change the way we think about, and take action on, philanthropy. Alongside The Challenger on the Sir Thomas Lipton Foundation website will be guest contributors from different part of the world, sharing their ideas and inspiration.

And why is this blog called The Challenger? The greatest trophy in sailing, the America’s Cup, is one of the oldest and finest traditions in sport. Sir Thomas Lipton is the most famous of all challengers in its long history. Five times he tried to wrest the America’s Cup from The Defender. A duel between one of Lipton’s five Shamrocks and the defending yacht of The New York Yacht Club. Five times Lipton lost and five times his New York hosts were almost speechless with his sportsmanship and generosity of spirit. In between his epic defeats Sir Thomas sponsored and championed water sport all over the world. He loved sailing and wanted to share his passion with everybody. Sailing should be open to all, he believed, not an elitist sport.

Sir Thomas is not many people’s picture of a philanthropist today. For one thing, some argue, didn’t he do it all to boost Lipton Tea sales? He didn’t do a Carnegie or a Rockefeller either. He didn’t build libraries or create a big Foundation. He didn’t win the America’s Cup. So what did he do?

This blog is inspired by his readiness to challenge, again and again. In spite of losing, again and again, he goes on putting money into sailing and water sport, from New Zealand to South Africa, from Canada to Chile. All this from a man who loved being out on the water but was not a sailor. The Challenger seems a fitting title. The philanthropy that will feature in this blog will not be perfect. It will be flawed. It may not always succeed, but hopefully it will capture that generosity of spirit and perseverance that made Sir Thomas Lipton, The Challenger, so special.