Speech

Rob Wilson at Giving Tuesday reception

Rob Wilson gave a speech at a London Stock Exchange reception to mark Giving Tuesday.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Rob Wilson

It’s pleasure to be with you to celebrate #GivingTuesday. I’d like to thank the London Stock Exchange for kindly being our hosts and the CCLA for providing today’s refreshments.

This venue – the centre of a global financial network – is well suited, because today is a truly global day of giving.

Our willingness to help other people is one of the most basic, most fundamental, human qualities and something that unites us and transcends all other divisions. That’s why Giving Tuesday is being celebrated across 5 continents – from Australia to Israel, Canada to Singapore.

But since it was launched in 2012, one country has been conspicuous by its absence. A country where in a typical month 3 out of 4 people give to charity – a higher proportion than any other developed country in the world. A country that last year alone gave £10 billion to good causes. That country – in case you hadn’t guessed – was the United Kingdom.

We should be very proud of our generosity as a nation; it’s something to be cherished, celebrated and encouraged. So it was only right that the UK become a part of Giving Tuesday this year and the Charities Aid Foundation has done a great job of making such a success of this campaign.

Of course, philanthropy has always been a way of life here in the Square Mile. I’d like to congratulate the London Stock Exchange on the success of its fourth Charity Trading Day last month, which raised in excess of £380,000 – and a total of £2 million since 2010.

Working with Charities Aid Foundation, the money is being used to mentor disadvantaged young Londoners and to combat the spread of HIV/Aids overseas.

The story is the same in workplaces and schools and in homes and communities throughout the country. The British people never fail to dig deep into their pockets or to give their time and skills for the benefit of others.

Black Friday vs Giving Tuesday

Giving Tuesday is an opportunity to stop, pause and perhaps give a little extra as the build-up to Christmas gathers pace. A few days ago we watched on TV as shoppers jostled for deals on Black Friday. I think many people found all the pushing and shoving rather unpleasant. It seemed out of kilter with the normal British way of doing this – after all, as a nation we invented the art of orderly queuing.

Of course there’s nothing wrong with offers or sales, but I think retailers need to consider their responsibilities toward customer safety more carefully and find a better way of doing things next year.

I don’t think many retailers will want to continue to be identified with the type of Black Friday we’ve just experienced. For those of us put off by the sharp-elbowed consumerism of Black Friday, the unabashed generosity of Giving Tuesday is the ideal antidote. In this respect, I’m delighted to see #GivingTuesday. is the top trending item on Twitter, with over 100 tweets a minute.

But today is just a start. There are over 160,000 registered charities in this country. They do fantastic work day-in, day-out. But they can’t do it alone – they need support. Not just some of the time, but all of the time.

Community First Endowment Match Challenge

That’s why the government is supporting the development of finance which is smarter and more sustainable.

The Community First Endowment Match Challenge is one example. Some of the oldest charities in the country are funded by endowments. Take the case of the 18th century London merchant who wanted to do something for his community. In his will he left £220,000 as an endowment to his local hospital. That man was Thomas Guy. Three hundred years later his original endowment has grown and, combined with other legacies, now provides a £509 million fund to support the work of 2 major hospitals just across the river from here. So it’s not a new idea, but it’s a proven one with huge potential.

When we launched the Community First Endowment Match Challenge, we promised that for every pound given by individuals, philanthropists and businesses, the government would give 50 pence. The total sum is then invested, and the annual return is granted to local charities as chosen by the donor.

In the last financial year 700 charities benefitted from returns of £1.7 million. Apprentices on the Isle of Wight; older people in South Shields; young carers in Kent – this money is making a difference to all these people and many others right now.

But the original investment remains untouched and continues to grow. I can today tell you that the total has reached £110 million.

So thank you to the individuals and businesses across England – some here today – whose donations have made this possible.

Their generosity will make a difference not just once, not just now, but year after year for generations to come.

To mark Giving Tuesday, and as a sign of our continuing commitment, I’m delighted to announce today that the government is making a further £2 million available to the pot. This will help encourage an additional £4 million from donors and we hope the pot can reach £120 million by March next year.

This is one small example of different ways in which we’re encouraging giving.

Sustainability

The giving of money is a bedrock of our civil society. And civil society is crucial to the sort of country we want to live in. You see, we know all too well that government doesn’t have all the answers.

So we want to engage those who do. Those with the expertise and the local reach; those who care most about the vulnerable, and make things work, whatever the barriers. Those who are willing to do things differently.

These are the parents; the community groups; the charities; the social enterprises; the public service mutuals.

We want to give them the opportunity to improve where governments have too often failed in the past. And we want to do this in partnership, and for the long-term.

So I want to spend just a few moments setting out my bigger vision for how government can support this sector sustainably.

Public services and civil society are going through big changes, creating new opportunities and challenges.

Charities and social enterprises are grappling with this, and trying to discern what a sustainable future looks like for services their beneficiaries rely upon. They may decide to make their mark as agile, volunteer-based organisations. They may choose to put themselves at the vanguard of public service reform. They may decide to become more entrepreneurial, generating diverse sources of income. They may decide to seek closer ties with others in the sector, whose aims align to their own.

Whatever path they choose – and it is their choice – we will help. We want to unlock more opportunities for charities and social enterprises to deliver public services, opening up public money and contracts for the sector.

We are supporting this through initiatives like the Social Value Act, Social Impact Bonds and reforms to commissioning.

I know we have further and faster to go, but we’re now beginning to make real progress. This is a change in pace in the transformation in the reach and scope of civil society’s delivery of services.

As part of this, we continue to develop a range of new financing options to support organisations wanting to innovate and develop their business. So we are offering a menu of options for different organisations that need different kinds of support – with Big Society Capital and the Social Investment Tax Relief at the heart of our effort.

And we have worked hard to make the day-to-day running of a charity or social enterprise less burdensome, reducing red tape and making the law work better for them.

But I think we can go much further. I want to increase the support available to organisations at all stages of their journey, whatever that journey might be. So the government will be providing an extra £140 million to help the sector to develop and implement the right strategy for them.

Part of this will be through our upcoming Local Sustainability Fund, which will help charities and social enterprises articulate their core offer, reduce running costs if needed, and to explore different ways of diversifying their income.

And there is support in place to help them take their plans forward. Perhaps their plans require further investment, and they decide social investment is an option.

So we’re putting at least £60 million over the next decade into a new foundation to increase access to the social investment market.

These funds will help build the capacity of charities and social enterprises looking to take on social investment, learning from the success of our Investment and Contract Readiness fund, which has already unlocked £20 for every £1 of government grant.

And this £60 million is working in partnership with the Big Lottery Fund and Big Society Capital to create a foundation with more than £100 million to grow this area of the market.

You can begin to see the picture.

We have supported innovative start-ups through the Social Incubator Fund. We will have support for those who need a chance to take stock of where they are – the Local Sustainability Fund.

We will have support for those who are dipping a toe into repayable capital – this new foundation.

And we have support for those looking to increase their impact – Big Society Capital and all our work to open up public sector markets.

So we not only have a long term economic plan, but we also have a long term social plan.

A plan to support the social sector to expand and continue to do what it does best – improving the lives of individuals and their communities.

Conclusion

So my vision is for a thriving sector, working for and with communities, supported by more volunteering, backed by intelligent financial support, and more commissioning from government. And I’m serious about making this vision a reality.

It total, the government is donating or leveraging around a quarter of a billion pounds of funding to help social investments, enterprises and charities seize this huge opportunity.

So we can’t let this moment pass.

Giving Tuesday shows that great things are possible when we work together. Just as the Community First Endowment Match Challenge is evidence that there are always new and better ways of doing things.

We’re at the start of a hugely exciting path. The opportunity for real transformation lies ahead. And as Minister for Civil Society, I will stand alongside charities and civil society organisations every step of the way to make this a reality.

Published 2 December 2014