At the time of the sale of Trebor Limited to Cadbury in 1989, Angela and Ian Marks decided to gift some of their share of the proceeds to the I R Marks Charitable Trust. The name of the charity was changed to the AIM Foundation in 1993, stands for the Angela and Ian Marks Foundation and indicates that the Foundation had an overall ‘aim’ of transforming lives.
Along with Charles Woodhouse from Farrers, advice from the Charities Aid Foundation, and partnership working with the UK and local Community Foundations and the Network for Social Change, a giving strategy has evolved.
In 2006 Angela and Ian Marks’ children Pippa Bailey, Caroline Marks, Joann Precious and Nic Marks became Trustees and Charles Woodhouse resigned. The new Trustees have gradually taken on more responsibility for proposing charities for funding and administration. Caroline Marks took over as Chair in 2016/17 and Angela and Ian became Founder Trustees.
Ian Marks died in 2018.
Tributes and obituaries
During his chairmanship, Ian Marks recognised some major needs and was visionary in seeing opportunities to create highly leveraged pragmatic approaches to collaborate towards their alleviation. Not only was he able to direct multi-year or significant funding towards a few selected charities, but he also offered his business experience and networking to help their causes.
An incredibly wide-reaching and long-term impact resulted from his initiative in the late 1990’s that inspired and enabled others to work together in trying to cancel unpayable debts in sub-Saharan African countries. Ian Marks along with other members of The Network for Social Change, appointed a charismatic and effective political lobbyist and campaigner, Anne Pettifor, who worked with a coalition of national organisations and regional and local groups. The Jubilee 2000 Debt Campaign was very successful in writing off $100 billions of debts owed by 35 of the poorest countries.
A different example of Ian Marks identifying an opportunity of leveraging extra funding, was his encouragement and managerial support he gave to the then small Sustrans charity.
Sustrans were creating cycle routes around Bristol, and he supported their application for major funding from the Millenium Fund, to develop a whole National Cycle Network. The Millennium Fund put in £40 million and voted it the best Millennium project. This amount was then matched by local authorities, resulting in an overall investment of £100 million in the National Cycle Network. Now there are over 10,000 miles of cycle routes.
In 1990’s Ian and Angela Marks were instrumental in establishing and developing the Essex Community Foundation’s Endowment Fund that helps a multitude of small local volunteer led community charities and social enterprises in their development of thriving local communities. Over the past 21 years ECF have distributed over £31 million in local grants.
Giving in East Anglia towards the delivery of support to the most disadvantaged beneficiaries remains a strategic strand for the foundation’s grant-making.
Over the years Angela has supported the Chelmsford Counselling Centre with both her time and counselling skills, as well as annual small grants. When they were raising funds for their new centre an one-off capital grant was made.
The Children’s Society Eastern Region has been given annual grants for over a decade and the current grant is towards children who are detrimentally affected by their parents’ drug and alcohol issues.
Other organisations that AIM has supported with multi-year grants over the years include:
The Foundation for Integrated Medicine, augmented conventional medicine with alternative complementary approaches, to improve patients’ recovery from chronic illnesses, was a recipient of large amounts of multi-year funding.
Health Education through Nutrition HETN encouraged the use of food-based nutrients (in a porridge called e’Pap) in cases of malnutrition in South Africa. In particular, research work increased TB patients’ survival chances, as their medication became more effective when the patients were nutrient replete.
From 1990-2010 many issues were funded through the Network for Social Change, who as a network of philanthropic individuals identify, research and seek donations for a wide range of causes. It was through this Network that the work of the think-tank, New Economics Foundation (Nef) was first selected for funding. Since then Nef has received large donations annually. In particular grants have been awarded to the work of the Centre for Well-being, founded by Nic Marks, and the publishing of the Happy Planet Index every few years.
The AIM Foundation used to allocate more funding towards grass roots projects overseas in developing countries through charities, like Intermediate Technology and Water Harvest (previously Wells for India). Now the focus on grant making is within the UK to projects that tackle disadvantage and deprivation.
Additionally, prior to 2010 grants, there was more an emphasis towards supporting organisations with an environmental focus, including Friends of the Earth and the Soil Association. The Gaia Foundation, which promotes the work of inspiring and influential environmental campaigners from the Southern Hemisphere, was supported annually until 2015.