The Guardian Voluntary Sector Network is a great online resource for people who have an interest in the voluntary sector. It offers advice, opinion, a regular online ‘ask the expert’ Q&A session and promotes events. After reading the recent Giving White Paper, I wrote a short article for the Network to share some thoughts about how the white paper misses a trick in failing to make a clear case for why people should give their time and money. I also discuss why micro-volunteering is a great idea, but is unlikely to result in the step change in volunteering that the Government is hoping to see. If you’d like to have a read, it’s available here.
Posts Tagged ‘giving’
The White Paper which was released earlier this week announces a range of measures designed to encourage the giving of both time and money and includes: a Social Action Fund and Challenge Prizes around volunteering; a Giving Summit in late autumn 2011; £30m for a Local Infrastructure Fund in order to encourage more effective support for frontline civil society organisations; and a year-long national payroll giving campaign.
Philanthropy UK offers a useful round-up of reactions to the initiatives in the Paper, including from organisations such as the Centre for Giving and Philanthropy (CGAP) and Charities Aid Foundation (CAF). Also worth reading is the blog post White Giving Paper: good ideas but no game changers by James Allen, Policy Manager, at NCVO:
“The White Paper is full of ideas, many of them good ones, but none of them are really “game changers”. Cashpoint giving, for example, has potential. Opening up mobile technology to giving is important too. Also in the white paper is a progress report on important, though not headline grabbing, initiatives around making the Gift Aid system work better and cutting some of the red tape that presents barriers to many charities. Government is to be commended for its taking up of NCVO’s Funding Commission recommendation on the need to support the sector in investing in and modernising its own support mechanisms – this money is important and will make a difference. There is a gap, however, between the desire to see a new culture of giving and the proposed mechanisms to achieve it…”
To read the full post.
The Centre for Charitable Giving (CGAP) and The Centre for Market and Public Organisation launched last week a detailed analysis of household giving in Britain since 1978. It’s a really thorough piece of work looking at how charitable giving has changed over time. It will hopefully inform the forthcoming White Paper on charitable giving, philanthropy and social investment.
Here are some of the main findings in the report:
- The millennium year marked a turning point in the long-term decline in the proportion of UK households that give to charity. Roughly a third of households gave to charity in 1978, but by 1999 this share had fallen to roughly a quarter. In the first decade of the twenty-first century, the proportion of givers has averaged over 28 per cent.
- Average donations have increased in real terms over three decades. Looking at the whole population (both givers and non-givers), donations have more than doubled – from £0.96 per week in 1978 to £2.36 per week in 2008.
- Looking only at givers, donations have gone up three-fold – from £3.05 per week in 1978 to £8.66 per week in 2008.
- But there has been no change in donations as a share of total spending for more than 20 years. Households today give 0.4 per cent of their spending, exactly the same as they did in 1988.
- Charitable giving is largely recession-proof. Donations have typically grown in times of economic growth and have not fallen at the same rate as the economy during recessions.
- Charitable giving increasingly depends on elderly donors. The over-65s now account for more than a third of all donations, compared with a quarter in 1978. Higher giving among older age groups may reflect the values and beliefs of these generations.
- Better-off donors now account for an increasing share of total donations. Today, the richest ten per cent of donors account for 22 per cent of total donations, compared with 16 per cent in the early 1980s.
- At the same time, poorer givers are more generous in terms of the proportion of their total budgets given to charity. The poorest ten per cent of givers donate 3.6 per cent of their total spending to charity, compared with 1.1 per cent for the richest 10 per cent.
The Government has released its Green Paper on giving time and money “to start a national debate on our society’s attitudes to giving”.
Major policy proposals in the paper include:
- A £50million Community First Fund to invest in local savings schemes that pay out small grants well into the future in the most deprived areas. It will match contributions from local donors to encourage more giving.
- A £10million Volunteer Match Fund to double the benefit of private donations to voluntary projects.
- Harnessing new technology. Including working with mobile phone companies to encourage charitable phone applications. Also talking to banks about donations through ATMs and widening access for people to make small charitable donations when paying for goods by cards.
- Encouraging a new focus reciprocal giving with ideas like setting up an ebay style online community where people can trade time.
- A government review of the relationship between financial incentives and giving.
- Support to encourage charitable giving in schools.
The paper is available to download on the Cabinet Office website along with a number of think-pieces from external contributors covering a wide range of topics as the role of venture philanthropy and how to make better use of technology. Contributors include Stephen Howard (Business in the Community), David Halpern (Institute for Government) and Alan Hatton-Yeo (Beth Johnson Foundation).
Interestingly, the paper highlights that “people frequently cite lack of time, information and bureaucracy as obstacles to giving their time”, but recognises that “while removing these barriers to participation is necessary, it is not sufficient to bring about a step-change in the culture of giving time. Many people give time because they want to help, but there are also specific motivations which differ from person to person, and recognising this diversity is important”. This really resonates with some of the key messages in our literature review ‘Understanding participation’ and more recently in our short report ‘Strengthening participation: Learning from participants’.
On the subject of removing barriers, decentralisation minister Greg Clark launched, just before Christmas, a ‘barrier busting’ service “to help volunteers, community groups and social enterprises overcome bureaucracy and get things done in their neighbourhood”. Definitely one to watch…
Lately, there has been no shortage of news pieces relating to participation. Here are just a couple of the stories that have caught my attention recently.
There was a conversation on Radio 4′s Thinking Allowed last week about recent research on participation. John Mohan from the Third Sector Research Centre was talking about the Centre’s use of Citizenship Survey data to identify what they are calling the ‘civic core’. This refers to the small segment (less than 10%) of the population responsible for a disproportionate level of voluntary work, charitable donations, and participation in civic groups.
In response, professor Su Maddock questioned what gets left out of the picture when data is based solely on the Citizenship Survey. She challenged listeners to think about participation in different ways – not just in terms of traditional volunteering, which she describes as ‘doing to’ but also mutual organisations and social entreprises, which she described as ‘doing together.’ An expanded understanding of participation could mean that the ‘civic core’ is greater than what the Citizenship Survey would suggest. I was interested in the language of ‘doing to’ vs ‘doing together,’ and the questions this distinction raises about the differences between the two models.
The second story which caught my eye was a blog post in The Guardian about the launch of a new report on participation in neighbourhood websites by Networked Neighbourhoods. The study looked at participation on online forums in Brockley, East Dulwich, and Harringey. It found that these forums were seen by the residents and council representatives as largely positive channels through which residents could meet others in the neighbourhood and gain a sense of power around local decision-making, and both residents and council staff could acquire and share information. It also highlighted what many respondents found challenging about these types of sites: complaint. This raises questions about how neighbourhood website structure and site moderators can encourage meaningful debate and discussion, of which anger and discontent can be perfectly healthy parts, without letting what the report calls ‘aggressive negativity’ stiffle the exchange.
Using 2008-09 Citizenship Survey data, CLG has just produced a report that looks at participation in formal and informal volunteering and trends in participation over time. It discusses the activities that volunteers do, the organisations they help, sources of information and motivations for, benefits from, and barriers to participating in volunteering. It also reports on participation in employer-supported volunteering. The report then focuses on charitable giving, looking at who gives to charity, the ways in which people give to charity and the amount of money people give.
Regarding volunteering, the report indicates that the number of people formally volunteering at least once a month has fallen since 2005 (26% in 2008-09 compared to 29% in 2005) but that people who volunteer regularly are volunteering more hours. It also notes that people who regularly participate in formal or informal volunteering are more likely to give to charity than people who are not regular volunteers.
The Centre for Charitable Giving and Philanthropy has just released new research on how levels of giving are affected by seasonal factors. An analysis of the National Expenditure and Food Survey shows that:
- “the average weekly value of donations follows a slightly U-shaped trend across the year, varying considerably by quarter;
- lowest levels of giving are found in the summer months, when average weekly donating is down by 11% compared to the autumn and winter quarters;
- the higher amounts observed in the earlier part of the year are due mainly to gifts from wealthier households, and may be related to the end of the tax year in March/April;
- low-income households are particularly generous towards the end of the year and Christmas”.