Gower Street is a small, UK based, family-run charitable trust, originally established in 2007. Founders Sophie and Nick Marple, started their philanthropy journey as individuals; Nick had spend time in Ghana and had been sponsoring a child there, whereas Sophie acted on her doorstep to help with issues in London. Later they combined their efforts to create the Marple Charitable Trust which later became Gower Street.
Initially funding was focused on education across Sub-saharan Africa as well as in their local borough of Islington in the UK. After a few years of funding across numerous countries, the organisation re-focused its work in Africa purely on Ghana, prioritising education for girls. In 2017, the trust worked with Jake Hayman at Ten Years Time to revise its approach, which led to us focusing on system change work and funding smaller organisations doing transformatory work, and the following year, Gower Street began to develop a clearer focus on climate mitigation and adaptation.
Gower Street takes a trust based approach to funding, going on the journey with their grantees and learning as they learn. The team tries to provide core funding rather than restricted recognising the increased value that unrestricted funding offers our partners. The team tries to keep bureaucracy as low as possible, and opt for a chat over a written report. In 2020, Nick and Sophie decided to spend down the fund by 2030, aware that the money is needed in the sector now.
Gower Street does not invite unsolicited applications however if you have read this website and feel that the work you do closely aligns with the areas the trust funds, feel free to send in a one pager (12 pt double space) outlining what you do and why you think Gower Street should fund you to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. The team will get in touch if they believe your work could be a potential for Gower Street funding (please don’t chase them). All funding decisions are approved by our trustees and our board meets every 2 months.
We will not fund organisations who receive a significant amount of their income from oil or coal mining companies or similar.
Gower Street is mindful of the time and effort that goes into applying for funding. The application process is therefore designed to be simple, based around conversation and a brief written application, which is only invited where there is a high chance of success. In 2022, 36 applications were considered by the trustees and 33 of these were approved. Gower Street will award any unsuccessful applicants that were invited to apply with a one off donation of £500 as compensation towards the time spent on the application process.
Sophie is a funder, impact investor and campaigner. She is the co-founder of Gower St and in 2020 she also helped set up Impatience Earth, a philanthropy consultancy offering pro-bono advice to people looking to give in the climate sector and the grassroots organisation Mothers CAN (Climate Action Network). In 2022 Sophie became the Chair of The Climate Coalition and she continues to bring the benefit of her broad range of experience across the sector to the work of Gower Street.
Nick is the co-founder of Gower St and has been funding education projects and climate change work in the UK and Ghana for 15 years. He has been visiting Ghana regularly for 20 years and has a strong connection to the people and the country. Nick is a long-standing Impact Investor looking to invest in start-ups that can reduce our global carbon footprint and have a positive social impact.
Florence is Director of the Environmental Funders Network in the UK and has previously run grantmaking and education programmes at environmental charities in the US. Florence joined Gower St to help support its climate giving and because she values its focus on how best to support grantees, its commitment to learning, and its decision to spend all its resources in a decade when the need for climate philanthropy is so acute.
Pearl is a PhD level researcher and consultant focused on education in sub-Saharan Africa and the UK. She has worked with major aid agencies including DFID, IDRC and NORAD and the government of Ghana in research, consultancy and programme delivery roles. Pearl is also a qualified maths teacher and brings her education expertise and lived experience of the Ghanaian context to Gower Street’s work.
Harriet has over 15 years experience of designing and delivering ambitious grantmaking programmes on climate, nature and human rights issues. She is co-founder of The Hour Is Late, a philanthropic sector consultancy, and an active (albeit very part-time) grass roots campaigner in her home city of Bristol. The thing Harriet loves most about being a Gower Street trustee is the opportunity to support awesome activists and campaigners, and continue learning what it takes to 'shift the dial' on some of the biggest issues we face as humankind.
Lawrence Kwabena Brobbey (PhD)
Lawrence is a Lecturer at the Department of Silviculture and Forest Management of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Ghana. His research spans from natural resources tenure and access, commodity chain analysis, rural livelihoods, adaptation to climate change and public policy. He has previously worked with government agencies and local and international non-governmental organisations. He has extensive field work experiences in plantations, ecotourism, project management and community mobilisation.
Sally Vivyan and Tessa Durham joined Gower Street in Autumn 2021 and work in a job share capacity as the Climate and Education managers at Gower Street.
Tessa has worked in NGOs, the private sector and philanthropy over the past 20 years. She is passionate about people, our planet and nature and loves working across a variety of projects. Tessa is currently studying for a Master’s in Sustainable Development at Sussex University. She lives in the East Midlands with her ever growing family of children, dogs, cats, chickens & bees!
Sally’s background is in smaller NGOs, having held roles spanning 20 years in fundraising, grant making and governance and she holds a PhD in the leadership of small charities. Sally has a long affiliation with Ghana and she loves working with all kinds of groups and individuals channelling their passion into social change. She lives in the North East with her young family.
Where the money comes from and how it is invested
Gower St funds come predominantly from Nick's 30-year career in the sports gambling industry. Until deployed as grants, monies are invested for positive social and environmental impact (well beyond ESG) as well as financial return. Our investments are split between EQ Investors eqinvestors.co.uk, impact fund Snowball www.snowball.im and a bespoke impact portfolio with Investec www.investec.com
Gower Street are signed up to IVAR's Open and Trusting Funders pledge, ACF's Funder Commitment on Climate Change and we participate in the RACE report.
In the media
Investing fora Better Future | 8 Nov 2022 | Circle Mena
From Girls' Education to Climate Funding | 18 May 2021 | Beacon Collaborative
Philanthropic Lives - The unique experiences of eight UK philanthropists | Think NPC
Wetlands, beavers & Cinderella causes; the growth of environmental funding
24 Dec 2020 | The Guardian