At a recent industry gathering in Rome, Matthew Bishop of The Economist gave the 600-plus private equity professionals in the room a few pieces of advice: Explain yourselves. Communicate better. And: take giving more seriously. Bishop, who is writing a book on philanthropy, also had some suggestions as to how private equity people could best do this: take a good look at the European Venture Philanthropy Association, for example.

Now in its fourth year, the EVPA is a great success story. Its 54 member include Private equity groups such as Coller Capital, Natixis, Access Capital Partners and Fondinvest; prominent foundations such as Bertelsmann, Esmee Fairbairn, van Leer and King Baudouin; and leading universities such as Oxford, ESSEC and IESE.

Says private equity fund placement specialist Doug Miller, one of the brains behind the association: “I am exceptionally pleased by the reception we have received. There is clearly a strong interest from the private equity community in engaging with the social sector and there is no doubt in my mind this is sincere humanistic philanthropy and not at all for publicity purposes”.

To get involved, mark you calendar: on 25 October, the EVPA will be holding its annual meeting in Madrid, with two panels, seven breakouts, and more than 250 delegates from over 20 countries. Details on registration can be found at conferences@ Don't miss it.