It is great to be back at BT Tower today, a reassuring part of London’s skyline. It is an operational centre that has connected different parts of the country through communications and could be described as an icon to the nation’s creative industries as it has featured in TV and film titles from Doctor Who to Harry Potter.
Today I’m back here with my photo ID to talk about giving, which has a long and proud tradition in this country.
There is a great deal to celebrate:
the Community Life Survey shows that 73% of people give money to charity in the average month;
the Charities Aid Foundation World Giving Index shows that the UK is the most generous nation in Europe and one of the most generous nations in the world.
Of course, giving is about more than just the positive impact you can make through financial donations and contributions to good causes. People and communities actively contribute through volunteering initiatives. Thirty one million adults volunteer at least once per year.
And many employers, including BT, already have impressive volunteering schemes, supporting their employees to give their skills and expertise to help charities and community groups.
Giving plays an important role in the resilience, sustainability and independence of our charities and community groups.
So they can continue to do their fantastic work to support people in the communities they serve.
I am committed to growing this country’s culture of giving. For example, our small charities fundraising training programme has helped hundreds of small charities to increase their income.
We’re also supporting campaigns such as Remember a Charity in Your Will Week and Giving Tuesday, that encourage the public to get behind charities and their important work. We’ve set out plans for a Local Charities Day later this year.
And we’ve used incentives to encourage giving too.
But more can be done to make it easier and more compelling for people to give.
Businesses are key partners in increasing this country’s culture of giving and there is more that can be done to harness the potential for giving in the workplace.
It ranges from initiatives such as payroll giving to employer supported volunteering schemes - that enable staff to lend their skills, to mentor, and to help others.
The Office for Civil Society is currently running a series of Giving Roundtables, bringing leaders together to assess what more can be done.
That included a Roundtable, kindly chaired by LSE, on how employers can further support giving.
We also worked with the Universities of Hull and Sheffield to run a series of workshops across the country with businesses and charities.
These workshops looked specifically at what could be done to help increase the quantity and quality of employer supported volunteering relationships. We are now looking at how we can respond to the feedback received.
The Government is committed to creating a Britain that works for everyone, so I see giving as a vehicle that can bring businesses and large organisations closer to the communities they operate in.
Businesses are reliant on, as well as responsible to, the communities in which they are based and they form an essential part of civil society.
Employee expectations are changing too. 64% of employees want their company to support the issues and causes that matter to them.
Many business leaders may be here today because they recognise that companies with a purpose beyond profit also make more money and grow more quickly.
According to the Harvard Business Review, globally, 58% of businesses who have prioritised purpose within their business model have seen their revenue grow by over 10% in the last 3 years, compared to just 42% of those who haven’t prioritised purpose.
So it’s great for businesses, great for charities and great for the beneficiaries and communities they serve.
There are some fantastic examples of how businesses have supported their staff to donate through their payroll. For example, I know that the Entertainer has an uptake of 50%.
We want others to follow its excellent lead.
That is why I am supporting the launch of the Geared for Giving campaign, which seeks to make it easy for more employers to support good causes by providing opportunities for their employees to give via their payroll.
Not only is payroll giving an effective way to give money to charity because donors get a tax relief; it is also a flexible giving mechanism that can facilitate giving to a range of different charities.
I’m delighted to see so much support in the room for the campaign.