The failure of the Big Society Commission to include the issue of giving
within its report is a “lost opportunity and one that should be noted as missing”, according to Mark Astarita, chair elect of the Institute of Fundraising.
The Big Society Commission report Powerful People, Responsible Society was published on Monday and aims to articulate a vision of what needs to be achieved through the Big Society agenda. Yet despite giving being the most popular way for people to contribute to charity, only two areas of fundraising were mentioned within Powerful People, Responsible Society: that of fundraising via new technologies such as mobile phones; and payroll giving, with the report recommending the government should "seek to incentivise employers" to increase the number of donations made through this mechanism.
Source: Institute of Fundraising
However, Astarita, who is also director of fundraising at the British Red Cross, said that these were not the most important issues of the day. "We could have had a conversation about Gift Aid, or about the potential impact of the removal of cheques. Payroll giving has been around for a long time and the truth is it has not delivered in relation to its potential.
"For most charities payroll giving is not high on the list of things they would like to see changed. If there was a choice between payroll givers and those who give via direct debit give me the latter any day. Gaining access to the data is not as rapid; someone has taken a cut before I get the donation; and more importantly when people leave their jobs they stop giving. I want someone who has a relationship with me not their company."
But while he was critical of the plans to promote payroll giving, he was supportive of the recommendation to harness the power of the private sector.
"No one could disagree with that. We want the corporate sector to engage with charities on a meaningful level by using their financial resources, skills, talent and reach," he said. "But again there could have been so many more imaginative things to say. Gifts in kind are massive in America. There must be a way in which we could also turn it into a multi-million pound donation driver. It's not just something that arts and heritage organisations should be able to benefit from."
Mark Astarita is chair elect of the Institute of Fundraising.
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