Charity in the workplace

Your staff are a generous bunch, but they might give a lot more if they were better organised.

by Alexander Garrett
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

Put it on the payroll. The easiest way to facilitate your staff's donations is to sign up for Payroll Giving. Individuals nominate a charity and the sum they want to donate monthly; this is automatically deducted, with tax rebated to the charity.

Get a grant. The Government has launched a scheme that pays a £300-£500 grant to SMEs that sign up for Payroll Giving. Each employee's donation will be matched by the Government up to £10 a month for the first six months. Lucinda Frostick of the Institute of Fundraising says: 'Small companies often fear it will be expensive to introduce, but our research showed that those companies that could attribute a cost to setting up Payroll Giving estimated it was only £150-£200.'

Count the benefits. A study by the Giving Campaign found that 61% of firms that ran a giving programme said their image improved; 34% said it boosted staff morale. Improved recruitment and retention are also cited. 'It also builds an element of team spirit among the workforce,' says Peter Driver of Charity Begins at Work magazine.

Promote it. Encourage staff to sign up, perhaps by calling in professional fundraisers. Peter O'Hara, MD of Workplace Giving UK, says: 'You will be lucky to get participation of 2% of employees if you don't promote the scheme, but you can expect take-up of 25% or higher if you do.'

Use matching donations. The second key ingredient is for the employer to provide matching donations. 'It doesn't have to be one-for-one,' says O'Hara. 'You can cap corporate donations, match up to 10%, or simply offer matching donations for any employee who signs up this month.'

Other ways of giving.> Some may prefer to volunteer their services rather than cash. Consider setting up a timebank, where you allow employees a specified amount of paid time off for voluntary work.

Choose a company cause. It's productive for a company to support a group of charities. This provides a focus for team-based fundraising, and presents a cause for which it can make a real difference. 'Start with a questionnaire among employees,' advises Andrea Van-Sittart, head of corporate services at the Charities Aid Foundation. 'You might want to choose one national and one regional charity.'

Don't be shy. It's fair enough to use your workplace giving for PR purposes. 'If it's a well put together programme,' adds Van-Sittart, 'it's important to say your company and employees have supported a cause, as it will encourage others to do likewise.'

Do say: 'Tell us who you'd like to support and we'll help you.'

Don't say: 'If employees want to give money away, that's their business.'

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