Benjamin Goldsmith, founder of the Manuka Club
Admission to the Manuka Club – an environment protection organisation founded by Benjamin Goldsmith in 2004 – is not achieved so much by lobbying as by private invitation. Organisations deemed worthy of financial help are recommended by a small group of “gatekeepers” – all experienced campaigners.
The club, which has recently been subsumed into the JMG Foundation, is an influential global network set up with funds bequeathed by the late tycoon Sir James Goldsmith focused on awarding grants to environmental projects all over the world. Unlike its parent body, Manuka gives relatively small sums (maximum £2,000) to local groups of volunteers in the UK.
Typically, campaigners go on weekend course to learn how to generate publicity, to reach opinion formers, to stage meetings and to recruit volunteers. It has given many groups the confidence as well as the skills to engage in David and Goliath style contests with major corporations – often with success.
Among causes which have benefitted from the club are the campaign to prevent the A350 bypass between Trowbridge and Warminster, the fight to prevent aircraft noise resulting from the construction of a new runway at Heathrow and the campaign to halt Bristol airport expansion.
The organisation was named after the Manuka tree in New Zealand which is the first sign of life to reappear after an environmental disaster such as a fire or flood.
WorldPR has been involved in the Manuka Club since its inception, providing guidance on strategy, fundraising and logistics.