The salesman who made charity work

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The salesman who made charity work The organisational achievements and humanitarian legacy of Cecil Jackson-Cole, founder of Andrews and Andrews Charitable Trust, co-founder of Oxfam.



Foreword by Michael Robson.

3 The life

CJC’s journey from East End boy to international charity pioneer.

6 The methods How CJC built successful charityminded businesses, and businessminded charities.

8 The living legacy How the business structure CJC put in place continues to fund innovative young charities.

12 Afterword

by David Westgate.


Remembering CJC Foreword by Michael Robson.

Cecil Jackson-Cole (or CJC, as we’ve always known him at Andrews) was one of those people of whom it can confidently be said, ‘He changed

Andrews starts here

the world’. He did it by forming an estate agency called Andrews, then using funds and seconding personnel from his business to establish the world’s first permanent overseas aid agency, Oxfam. Then he did it again with Help the Aged and Action Aid. In the process, he practically invented the professional charity sector. Before he died in 1979, CJC put Andrews into the ownership of charitable trusts, which continue to receive 100% of profits not reinvested in the business. The trusts use these funds to seed-fund new, innovative charity projects. Even today, I don’t think any other business operates in this way, and yet it works. When I meet my peers in other estate agencies, they sometimes express their amazement that Andrews continues to thrive with this charitable ‘straitjacket’ around us. I tell them that this commitment has imposed productive disciplines on us – such as maintaining our cash reserve through dips in the business cycle – and gives all of us extra motivation to hit our targets. I joined Andrews as a trainee negotiator in 1976; I’m one of the last of our current staff to have served under CJC. This short booklet, published in my retirement year and the 70th anniversary of CJC’s establishment of Andrews as an estate agency, is our modest effort to describe and celebrate his pioneering achievements and living legacy, and explain how from unpromising beginnings he made it all happen. It's been fascinating and humbling unearthing the details of CJC's extraordinary life and achievements for this publication. I do hope you find it interesting. Michael Robson, Chief Executive of Andrews Property Group, 1990 to 2016, Trustee of Andrews Charitable Trust.

In 1920 – at the age of just 20 – CJC bought his father out of this failing furniture shop called Andrews on Highbury Corner.


The life: 1901–1979 Cecil Jackson-Cole’s key achievements in brief.

Urgent relief

The born entrepreneur Cecil Jackson-Cole was born into modest circumstances in the East End of London in 1901. His father was – as CJC was to become – an entrepreneur shopkeeper, but without his son’s talent. Every new shop he opened failed – quickly. In 1914, his father was called up and the 13-year-old CJC left school to work in a wholesale food business to support his mother and younger sister. Six years and several promotions later, he had saved enough to buy his father out of the lease on a furniture store called Andrews. Within 10 years, Andrews Furnishers had three other branches.

Becomes a business-minded philanthropist His first major charitable enterprise was setting up a retreat for war veterans on the Isle of Sheppey in 1932, but the following year, he had a physical and mental collapse. Confined to bed in a nursing home for nearly three years, he did a lot of thinking about his responsibilities as a Christian businessman, as he tells us in the autobiographical notes he left CJC’s first fund-raising efforts provided food and clothing for starving Greek civilians.

us: “My illness left me with an immense amount of time for meditation on religious matters, life and the problems of the world.”

Moves to Oxford, finds his Cause in famine relief CJC emerged from his illness full of humanitarian energy and purpose, and shortly before the war, he moved to Oxford. It’s not clear what took him there, but it was the right place and timing, because he was soon mixing with an influential group of people who were agitating for famine relief in occupied Europe. In 1942, news started to emerge from Greece of up to 2000 civilians a day dying of starvation as a result of the British blockade of Greek ports. In Oxford, a group of academics and clerics had formed a committee to lobby against the blockade. But they weren’t getting anywhere, until Gilbert Murray, Professor of Greek and CJC’s next-door neighbour, invited him to one of the Oxford Committee for Greek Famine Relief’s meetings. CJC was soon using the advertising skills he’d developed in his furniture business to raise considerable sums for the Greek Red Cross, who used these to bring food in from neutral Turkey.

Saves Oxfam from extinction After the war, when the Committee felt its work had been done, CJC persuaded them that Oxfam, as it was soon to be called, had to become a permanent overseas relief agency. Years later, the Committee’s first Chairman, Canon Theodore Milford, recalled that “None of the rest of us thought the Committee would have more than a year’s work. JacksonCole had a vision far beyond that.”


Gives business a humanitarian purpose CJC opened the first Andrews estate agency in 1946, and other

Britain’s first charity shop

branches soon afterwards. He saw a clear gap in the market for a new kind of estate agency, specialising in low to mid-value residential property and attentive personal service, but what really motivated him was its potential to support Oxfam’s early development – not only through direct funding but also by seconding staff to the organisation. He knew that if he could get Oxfam on a firm footing, it would quickly develop momentum, scale and self-sufficiency.

Opens the first permanent charity shop Charity stalls had long been in existence, but CJC saw the potential for a permanent charity shop run on commercial lines, and despite opposition from the Committee, he appointed a full-time salaried manager, Joe Mitty, to run it. In its first two years, that first shop sold £51,000 of goods – the equivalent of £1.6m today.

Founds Help the Aged, Action Aid and Anchor Housing CJC understood that other agencies were needed to address specific humanitarian needs. So he founded Help the Aged (now Age UK and HelpAge International) in 1961, and Anchor Housing (sheltered accommodation for the elderly) in 1968. In 1972, he pioneered the concept of sponsoring children though another of his humanitarian start-ups, Action Aid. He also set up a number of charitable trusts, funded with profits from his businesses, and drawing on Andrews' skills and resources to support new projects.

Shuns self-promotion You might think these achievements must have earned CJC a public honour or two. But he died, aged 77, as plain Cecil Jackson-Cole. The only memorial to him is the blue plaque above the first Oxfam shop. He discouraged personal publicity and any suggestion that he should be put up for honours.

Leaves a lasting legacy CJC’s dying words in 1979 were reportedly, “There is so much more to do”, and yet he achieved so much. Oxfam, according to the agency’s historian, Maggie Black, “would have sunk without trace without Cecil Jackson-Cole”. Age UK, HelpAge International, Action Aid and Anchor Homes are major charities. Andrews Charitable Trust – mainly funded by its shareholding in the estate agency – continues to kickstart innovative charity projects. In one of his last notes, CJC estimated that together, these organisations had delivered – directly and through venture funding – over £500 million worth of aid. Imagine what that figure would be today.

17 Broad Street, Oxford is still an Oxfam shop today. When it opened in 1949, neighbouring shopkeepers feared it would lower the tone.


The life: 1901–1979 Milestones in CJC’s journey from East End boy to international charity pioneer.

Takes on his father’s lease on Andrews Furnishers, Highbury Corner.

Born Albert Cecil Cole in Forest Gate, East London.






Marries Phyllis. Moves to Oxford, opens Andrews Furniture Warehouse.

First major charitable enterprise: buys Warden Manor on the Isle of Sheppey as a retreat for war veterans.






1943 1946

Joins the Oxford Committee for Greek Famine Relief and raises £13,000 in Famine Relief Week.

First full-time job as an office boy for a food wholesaler in London Bridge.

Mental and physical breakdown; spends next three years at a nursing home in Broadstairs, in the care of his cousin Phyllis.

At 18, he’s managing a sales team at the wholesalers. Andrews Furnishers now has four branches in London.

His mother’s death leaves him devastated. He changes his name to Cecil Jackson-Cole (Jackson was her maiden name).

Opens first Andrews estate agency. Organises national newspaper campaign for famine relief. Raises £2600 with first £55 ad.


Launches Christian Book Promotion Trust (now operating as Speaking Volumes).

Opens first permanent charity shop in Oxford, and four more Andrews estate agency branches.

Launches Action Aid with its Sponsor a Child campaign.

First purpose-built Anchor homes.

Phyllis dies.

1948 1949 1951

1956 1958 1961

Oxford Committee renamed Oxfam. CJC is its first General Secretary.

1965 1967

1968 1972

Sets up the Phyllis Trust (later Andrews Charitable Trust) to manage Andrews’ charitable funding.

Establishes Voluntary Christian Service to raise funds for Oxfam and other overseas aid projects and to pay for charities to access professional skills.

Persuades the Oxford Committee to become permanently established as a charity.

Marries Theo Handley in India.

Launches Help the Aged, raises ÂŁ100,000 to fund day centres and community buses.




Puts Andrews into the total ownership of charitable trusts, committing the business to charitable funding.

Establishes Help the Aged Housing Association (later Anchor Homes).

Dies at Burrswood Hospice in Kent.


The methods How CJC built successful charity-minded businesses, and business-minded charities.

Rapid response

CJC took a failing one-branch furniture retailer and turned it into a major estate agency network, even while channelling profits from this business to charity. He found an occasional campaigning committee and turned it into Oxfam. How did he do it?

Build social responsibility into the business Many businesses today – particularly the biggest ones – have corporate social responsibility policies, which may include making contributions to charity, or giving staff time off to do charitable work. CJC had a much simpler and far more radical idea. For him, a company’s ultimate purpose was to make money for charitable causes. To ensure that Andrews would continue to fund charitable projects after his death, CJC transferred the ownership of the business to charitable trusts. It’s impossible to measure what part this structural commitment to charitable funding has played in Andrews’ growth and success, but it certainly hasn’t been a hindrance.

This Andrews flyer from the 1980s echoes CJC’s original brief for the agency: respond quickly to valuation requests.

Challenge the status quo So many of CJC’s achievements stem from his instinct for challenging the established ways of doing things. When Andrews diversified into estate agency after the war, it was an industry run by old-world chartered surveyors, who weren’t organised to meet the growing demand for low to mid-price homes from people who’d never owned properties before. So CJC’s brief to the first manager he appointed, Raymond Andrews (the surname is coincidental), was to specialise in this market and give buyers and sellers the fast, friendly service they weren’t getting from chartered surveyors. In his home furnishings business, which he continued to run alongside the estate agency until 1976, CJC introduced what amounted to the first Argos-style catalogue. The business couldn’t compete for choice with the big furniture showrooms in the West End, so instead of cramming his small premises with stock, he invited customers to leaf through a catalogue full of furniture from a wide range of suppliers. He had this same eye for a better way of doing things in his approach to building charities – the shock advertising tactics he used in charity advertising, the permanent charity shops he set up, the competitive salaries he offered charity workers. The fact that these were new and untested ideas was, for CJC, a powerful reason for adopting them.


Recruit principled people

Shock tactics

CJC’s ideas on recruitment were unusual – almost inconceivable today – but effective. Because he believed that a culture of social and moral responsibility gave a business certain commercial advantages, he was less impressed by a candidate’s professional or academic qualifications than he was by evidence of their personal principles. He needed staff who would help Andrews build a reputation for honesty and good service, and who would happily devote some of their time to charitable projects, whenever CJC needed them to.

Take risks – the potential rewards justify the expense CJC’s appetite for risk-taking often led to conflict. At Oxfam, his fellow Committee members objected to him ‘gambling’ funds on advertising, so he assured them that Andrews would make good any losses. And he took risks with Andrews by pursuing an ambitious expansion programme. It fell to his right-hand man, Raymond Andrews, to hold him in check. They were an effective business double-act – CJC had the big ideas (“You only need 1 idea in 20 to work”, he claimed); Raymond was there to make them work or rein them in (“He would have opened more than 100 branches if I hadn't objected so forcefully.”)

Pay professionals professional salaries With his model for Andrews estate agents, CJC created the role of the professional residential sales negotiator. He effectively did the same professionalising job on the charity sector, appointing salaried staff to charities, as well as seconding Andrews staff to do part-time charity work. So he put an experienced, salaried manager, Joe Mitty, in charge of the first Oxfam shop, and hired Robert Castle, a marketing expert from Rowntree’s, as Oxfam’s full-time fundraiser. The shop made profits of over £20,000 and Castle raised over £100,000 in the first two years – the equivalent of £4 million today. He also appointed a talented advertising man, Harold Sumption, to produce all Oxfam’s advertising. Sumption introduced ‘split runs’ – testing different executions of a campaign in the same newspaper. And he was the first to code-mark response forms, so Oxfam would know which publication produced the best returns. CJC’s response to Sumption’s initial success with Oxfam was to tell him, “I want a lot more ideas from you, for which I’m going to pay you more.”

CJC and his advertising man, Harold Sumption, were bold in their use of pictures of suffering. It upset the more conservative members of the Oxford Committee, but it worked.


Living legacy Cecil Jackson-Cole left Andrews with a shareholder structure that ensures its profits continue to fund innovative charitable projects.

Furniture to international aid

The impact that Oxfam, Age UK, HelpAge International and Action Aid have made on so many lives is widely understood, while Anchor Homes has become the UK’s largest not-for-profit provider of accommodation and care for the elderly. All these organisations owe their existence to CJC and their early development to funding and pro bono services from Andrews.

Andrews Charitable Trust Today, Andrews Charitable Trust (ACT) continues to fund innovative charitable projects in much the same way that CJC kick-started what went on to become major charities. ACT is, thanks to CJC, the principal shareholder in Andrews Property Group; most of its income comes from the profits of the estate agency it owns. It started life in 1965 as the Phyllis Trust (in honour of CJC’s first wife), mainly to help fund Help the Aged, but once that had developed its own momentum, the focus became venture philanthropy – seed-funding innovative social projects. Since 1965, ACT has provided over £8 million of funding (not allowing for From unpromising beginnings in the furniture business, CJC built a successful estate agency and with its profits, established major national and international charities.

inflation) to 180 charities. Today, its strategy remains to support a small number of projects, often with funding staggered over the first few years of the project’s development. The emphasis is on innovation, replication and sustainability: imaginative start-ups with potential to develop into long-term, substantial organisations – the kind of organisations that CJC himself started.

Speaking Volumes: the Christian Book Promotion Trust Although he had many Quaker colleagues and connections with the Church of England, Cecil Jackson-Cole was essentially a nondenominational Christian who practised his faith privately and found comfort and inspiration in a number of Christian texts. He set up CBPT in 1967 to increase the availability of Christianitythemed books around the world – work that is still funded by its minority shareholding in Andrews. Through its Speaking Volumes scheme, CBPT offers grant funding to schools, libraries, prisons, hospitals, care homes and bookshops for any books on its approved list. CBPT also runs the bi-annual Christian Book Awards, celebrating outstanding new Christian literature.


My First Base: a fresh start for young people 2016 marked the 70th anniversary of CJC’s opening of the first Andrews

Building independence

estate agency branch. To celebrate this milestone, Andrews and ACT wanted to come up with a suitably ambitious, innovative and enduring project – worthy of CJC himself – and one in which the staff of Andrews could all be involved. The result is My First Base – a programme to acquire one property a year for the next 50 years to provide supported housing options for young people. It addresses an urgent social need: these young people often struggle to find accommodation, particularly if they’re unemployed or out of education. This project will give them a secure base from which to establish themselves. Each of the houses will be near an Andrews office and within easy reach of the town centre. The first house – in the Lawrence Hill area of Bristol – has already been acquired, and Andrews staff around the country are busy raising funds for the refurbishment costs and to build up a deposit on the next house. As My First Base rolls out to other areas served by Andrews branches, the agency is exploring ways in which its staff can get involved with their nearest project, from painting and decorating to supporting residents on work placements at Andrews.

The first My First Base house in Bristol is being refurbished by Bristol Together, which trains and employs ex-offenders.


180 beneficiary charities so far Andrews Charitable Trust has provided funding and support to 180 charitable projects since CJC founded it as the Phyllis Trust. These pictures show only a small selection of recent beneficiaries.

Distribution of grants since 1980 7%







Christian projects


Education & training



Dementia Adventure connects people living with dementia with nature and a sense of adventure – from park walks to sailing holidays.

CatchUp runs training courses for teaching assistants who work with children struggling with their literacy and numeracy. Its one-toone teaching materials are being used in some 4,500 UK schools.

Excellent Development works with communities in Africa and India to build sand dams which store water from the rainy season. The 900 dams built to date provide clean water for more than 800,000 people.

The Together Group is a building contractor and community interest company which trains and employs ex-offenders in Bristol, Birmingham and Glasgow. Most of its trainees have gone on to successful careers in the building trades; very few have re-offended.

BasicNeeds is an international agency improving the lives of people living with mental illness and epilepsy. Since 2000, over 650,000 people and their families have been enabled to live better lives in their communities.

Advantage Africa works in East Africa to give people affected by poverty, disability and HIV access to education, healthcare and employment.

15 11

Opportunity International operates through micro-finance organisations in 24 developing countries to provide small business loans, business training, insurance services and savings accounts.

Restored is an international Christian alliance working to transform relationships and equip churches to raise awareness of and act against violence against women.

2nd Chance is a 6-month course giving young adults in the UK opportunities to gain qualifications they missed out on, career mentoring, work experience and help getting real jobs.

Carers Worldwide develops and promotes cost-effective, sustainable and easily replicable support programmes for people who care for family members. Since 2012, it has helped more than 3,500 carers in Nepal and India.

Pictures to Share publishes beautifullyillustrated books to help carers and family members enjoy special moments with people with advanced dementia.

Inspira Farms provides affordable, turnkey processing platforms to enable small-scale farmers in developing countries to get internationally-certified and compete in high-value international food markets.


CJC’s gift to Andrews Afterword by David Westgate.

Everyone’s involved

It’s nearly 40 years since Cecil Jackson-Cole left us. But what he left us with continues to inspire us. Thanks to the way he structured Andrews, we continue to give a minimum of 35% of our profits every year to the two charitable trusts which own us. We’re all proud to work for a business that was set up with charity in mind. What I particularly want to celebrate here is the tradition that CJC established at Andrews of giving our time as well as money to charitable projects – our own free time as well as time out of the company. Back in the early days of Andrews, CJC regularly seconded staff to help Oxfam and other charities establish themselves on a professional footing. We continue to do this today, with most of our directors serving on the boards of charities and our charitable trusts.

Team Andrews brace themselves for the Bath Half-Marathon. They raised over £6000 for My First Base from this event alone.

My First Base gives us an opportunity to get all our people involved in a major Andrews Charitable Trust project. With 50 houses planned over the coming years, there will be plenty for them to do, not only in finding the properties, but also raising funds for the local charities running the houses, painting and decorating, mentoring the tenants and helping them get further education, training and work experience as they take their first steps in independent life. It’s been exciting to see how enthusiastically our people have responded to this idea. We challenged them to raise £70,000 to kick-start the project in celebration of the company’s 70th birthday, and through their sponsored runs, bike rides, cake sales and crazier ideas they’re well on their way to reaching that target. The money they’re raising will help meet the costs of refurbishing the first house, which will be done by another charity that ACT supports – the Together Group, which trains and employs ex-offenders. My First Base seems to me to be a very modern interpretation of CJC’s original intentions when he established Andrews as a charity-minded business, and used profits from the business to establish businessminded charities. Over time, My First Base will be a solid, asset-backed, self-sustaining network delivering a much-needed social benefit. I’m very lucky to be leading Andrews as we all embark on this great adventure. In CJC style, we’ve set ourselves a huge challenge, but thanks to our people, we’ve already got off to a great start. CJC was right: business and charity are good for each other. David Westgate, Chief Executive of Andrews property Group from 2016, Trustee of Andrews Charitable Trust.

Frontier man

Credits Andrews Charitable Trust is particularly grateful to the following people who kindly gave their time to this project: Luke Taylor, who undertook extensive research for this project, and Ronda Green, Marketing Director of Andrews, who guided Luke’s research. Dr Jessica Field, whose doctoral thesis is on Cecil Jackson-Cole, for generously sharing her considerable knowledge of the subject with us. And Theo Jackson-Cole, for sharing her personal memories of her husband with us.

CJC in Kenya in 1967: “He was always happiest out on the frontier with the pioneers." (Raymond Andrews)

Text: Michael Evans. Design: Louise Perry. Editor: Siân Edwards (Andrews Charitable Trust).

CJC was a world pioneer in venture philanthropy – a business-like, risk-taking approach, using the tools of venture capitalism to create social benefit on a huge scale. Canon Eric James at the memorial service at Westminster Abbey in 2001 on the centenary of CJC’s birth.

Jackson-Cole’s vision and persistence, backed by his reliance on his own company for risk capital, changed the face of charitable activity in the UK. Maggie Black, ‘Oxfam: the First 50 Years’ (Oxfam Publications, 1992).

Andrews Charitable Trust is UK-registered charity 243509. Christian Book Promotion Trust is UK-registered charity 255001. Andrews Property Group