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Jamie Lawrence


Insights Director

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An introduction to workplace giving


This article was written by Peter O’Hara, CEO of Workplace Giving UK.

At the beginning of the year, the Government launched a consultation on proposals to reform Workplace Giving. This form of charitable giving (also known as Payroll Giving or Give As You Earn) enables employees to donate to charity directly through their pay.

Although £118m is donated to charities this way every year, only six percent of all employees who have access to a scheme, give to charity in this way and only 54 percent of the working population currently have access to a scheme. So, why are the numbers so low?

Although the scheme is a tax-efficient way of giving – and the only way that higher tax payers can make sure that all their tax at 40 percent or 50 percent goes to the charity – the administrative process does need simplifying and employees need to know that their employers facilitate this type of giving.

This is a particularly challenging time for charities. They need as many cost-effective solutions to fundraise as possible. Salaries may not have increased by much recently, but we are still a nation of individuals who want to give; we just have to be asked.

Data we’ve collected from charities shows that 40 percent of all employees wanting to sign up to donate from their pay online are unable to do so as their employer doesn’t currently offer a scheme. And yet, giving to charity through the payroll remains a simple proposal.

Of course, it’s not just the mechanics of the process. Success depends not only what you’re asking employees for but how you are asking the question. Communication and employee engagement is vital, as well as having someone in your organisation to spearhead the campaign.

Consistent and effective promotion of the scheme from day one is also important, and that goes for new staff too. All new employees should be informed about the company’s scheme as part of the induction process, so they are made aware at the earliest possible opportunity.

Quartlerly, bi-annual or annual promotion campaigns can also help to maintain awareness and reinvigorate the scheme and present an opportunity to have people from charities and professional fundraising organisations visit your office and speak directly to staff about the benefits of giving this way.

Regular communication via email, company intranet and bulletin boards also serve to remind people of the scheme and the benefits of giving this way. Much like any other CSR activity, it also helps to have these updates coming from a senior member of the company, so the scheme is shown to be supported from a high level. It can take time to build up participation levels, so it pays to be patient.

Pay-as-you-earn giving may not be a perfect science, but with creativity, face-to-face promotion and joined-up thinking between charities, PFOs and employers, it can be effective – and a great way to boost engagement levels. 

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Jamie Lawrence

Insights Director

Read more from Jamie Lawrence