Building a giving culture

The recent Government Giving White Paper outlined ways in which we might improve the giving culture in the UK, ideas such as mobile phone and ATM enabled giving, reductions in inheritance tax as a reward for charitable giving, Gift Aid extended to smaller donations and Pro bono giving where famous figures give their time in return for people donating to a cause of their choice. These are all good things but do they go far enough?


“We need to encourage donors to start early”

Last week I heard talks by Thomas Hughes Hallett, CEO of Marie Curie, Harvey McGrath, Chairman of Prudential and Lloyd Dorfman, Founder and CEO of Travelex talk at aCause4 philanthropy event. I gathered three things about encouraging a culture of giving from these serious philanthropists.

  • Firstly – peer pressure can influence philanthropy positively. We only need to look at initiatives like the Gates and Buffet Giving Pledge to know the influence that peers can have.
  • Secondly – charities do not do enough to talk about their causes outside the sector. Charities love to discuss their woes with their peers and competitors but from the outside things can look rosy. How often do charities really effectively make the case?
  • Thirdly – we need to encourage donors to start early. In the US charities make themselves more accessible to the younger generation through events and low level giving programmes. Once they have caught ‘the bug’ US charities are very good at keeping them informed. They may not reap huge benefits in the short term but as British Airways famous customer service strapline used to say ‘today’s backpacker is tomorrow’s business class traveller’.

We know that there are tax incentives that make philanthropy in the US more appealing but it’s the embedded culture that also helps. Strong doses of peer pressure, a dynamic case and special donor care are three relatively straight-forward places for new giving cultures to start.


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