Philanthropist and businessman Steve Morgan is today pledging £1m a week to charities to help some of the most vulnerable sectors of society cope with coronavirus – and he’s called on other people to follow suit.
Morgan is the founder of housebuilder Redrow and former owner of Wolverhampton Wanderers. He founded the Steve Morgan Foundation in 2001, to support charities that help children and families, people with physical or learning disabilities, the elderly, or those that are socially disadvantaged in Merseyside, Cheshire and North Wales.
Now he is pledging up to £1m a week to help cash-strapped charities in the Foundation’s catchment area impacted by the critical phase of coronavirus but urged other entrepreneurs and philanthropists to do the same.
“The £1m per week will go into a war chest because we are at war against coronavirus,” he said. “People who know me know I don’t like the limelight but now is not the time to hide in the shadows.”
The father-of-six made the decision despite seeing an estimated 50% wiped off his own fortune in the past month by the economic crash caused by Covid-19 but said it wasn’t important compared to the humanitarian crisis the world was facing.
“I grew up in some pretty tough areas of Liverpool and changed schools nine times but worked hard, set up Redrow and got lucky. I never forgot my roots, which is why I set up the Steve Morgan Foundation in 2001 to help people who weren’t as fortunate as me.
“The Foundation has a small team, but we support hundreds of charities in our region and it’s these charities and, more importantly, the people they help that are going to be the hardest hit by coronavirus.
“Aside from the obvious difficulties that the charities are facing, supporting thousands of disadvantaged people, this crisis has already caused substantial cashflow issues. Normal day-to-day fundraising efforts that the charities undertake have been pulled from under them.
“The London Marathon alone puts around £65m into the charitable sector.
“We’ve already had more than 50 of our supported charities approach us for desperately needed funding and we are only at the beginning of this crisis. One of our charities, in just one day, had 248 additional people register for their foodbank.
“As the economy shrinks it will be the charities and the vulnerable people who suffer first and we can’t allow that to happen.
“At times like these it’s right that people turn to our politicians to take the lead, but entrepreneurs like myself can help. We can’t stand idly by and do nothing.
“We wish we could help the whole of the UK but we can’t. Our Foundation is committed to helping charities in Merseyside, Cheshire and North Wales and we’ll continue to do that. We urge others across the UK to follow suit.”
Morgan founded Redrow in 1974 and grew it into one of the UK’s most successful housebuilders, before retiring in March 2019. A lifelong Liverpool FC fan he unsuccessfully tried to buy the club on several occasions before eventually buying Wolverhampton Wanderers in 2007, where he stayed until 2016.
He set up the Steve Morgan Foundation nearly 20 years ago and has already committed assets totalling £300m in that time.
“The Steve Morgan Foundation is an enabler,” he said. “We work directly with charities in the front line. They are the ones who operate the foodbanks and support the many in society who rely on their services.
“Unfortunately, the Foundation can’t help charities outside of our catchment area, as much as we might want to, which is why we’re appealing to other entrepreneurs and philanthropists across the UK to step up to the plate.”
Morgan said they are working on Government advice that this critical phase could last for around 12 weeks. There was however no fixed time limit on this additional pledge to emergency fund local charities.
“Nobody knows how long the coronavirus will last but it won’t be a quick-fix,” he said. “The key is we have to respond now and get over the immediate crisis. That’s when we should review it.
“Sadly, we don’t have all the answers. We won’t be able to fund everyapplication, but we can make a difference. We have to make a difference.”
*Charities in Merseyside, Cheshire and North Wales looking for emergency funding should email firstname.lastname@example.org in the first instance. To check the criteria go to https://stevemorganfoundation.org.uk