Thursday 19 November 2009

"Giving what you can"

Great story of a new charity in Oxford set up to encourage more people to give more. The founder, an academic, has promised to give 50% of his salary. That is impressive.
I was pleased to get a comment on the Blog from Martin Brookes of NPC who challenged the claim by Liam Byrne that giving is" up dramatically".

It has recovered from the doldrums of the late 1990s, but it is low as a share of GDP or household income, has not risen over a longer period on these measures, and fewer people are giving. We may not be far away from less than half the population donating to charities. As Martin says " I am not sure that is such a healthy situation as Liam Byrne suggests."

The response I got from Liam's office is that the data point they had was average household giving was up from £1.50 to £2.50 though I think 08/9 a down year.

This is no academic debate. We do not yet know how the current recession will affect giving and donations. John Low of CAF has warned that there are problems ahead. We may well see a fall in giving next year. And this will occur at a time when cuts in public spending hit grants.

That is why charities are looking to the Chancellor to come up with reforms of Gift Aid in the PBR announcements expected December 9th.

But we also need to continue to encourage giving by citizens. I always liked the idea promoted by Greg Clark when he was third Sector oppo to Ed Miliband that we need to encourage a giving norm in society. Francis Maude MP talked of encouraging the return of the tithe tradition. But this needs to be underpinned by a better gift aid scheme.

I was pleased that David Blunkett MP responded to our briefing at our recent dinner and took this up with the Chancellor.

We will watch the Chancellor carefully. We have been led a merry dance on this so far!

BLOGS to watch!!

The marvellous Seb Elsworth has started blogging. You can access them here.

And the great Allison Ogden Newton also brings you tales from the social enterprise world. Click here to read it.


Rick Holland CFRE said...


You're right that we need to do more to encourage philanthropy, at all levels.

I would expand upon your "giving what you can" title in this way: Some people interpret "giving what you can" to mean "giving as little as you can," while others rise to challenge of "giving as much as you can."

We need to encourage the latter!


Martin Brookes said...


I wrote a comment about this on our blog. You can read it here - Liam Byrne's office should do better.

I also wrote a post about the decline in large gifts which few have seemed to spot, This should be more widely appreciated and discussed in my opinion. It shows a striking difference between the fall in very large gifts and that in total giving.


Martin Brookes said...

Stephen, Sorry, I don't know how to get those links to work!

Martin said...


I am now embarrassed to see you were referring to my blog. Apologies, and thanks for doing so! I'll read more carefully next time.


Unknown said...


I'd really appreciate if someone could post the website address of the new charity in which the founder pledged to give 50% of his salary. I think that's the website I saw profiled on the BBC a few days ago and I have been trying to locate it.