In troubled times there is always a worry that charitable giving may be one of the earliest casualties as businesses and individuals tighten the purse strings. It was therefore good to see a report from the charities aid foundation which revealed that the FTSE 100 companies donated average of 1.9% of pre-tax profits to charities in 2014.
However, in a good news/bad news scenario, whilst this meant that donations as percentage of profits was the highest seen since 2009, overall giving fell by £420 million on the previous year. Moreover, with the 10 most charitable companies accounting for three quarters of the donations the report illustrates the still unrealised potential for charitable giving from FTSE 100 companies.
Overall, the report looked at total charitable giving including cash donations and donations in kind as well as accounting for the value of work hours donated through volunteering schemes. Although the report was confined to the FTSE 100, it provides an interesting insight into the way in which organisations of all sizes can make a difference to the charity sector.
One important aspect to arise from this report and others like it is the way in which charitable giving need not be confined to the handing over of cash. This means that businesses which offer employees a certain number of paid days each year to take part charitable activities or which permit employees to run charitable fundraising activities, such as cake sales, on business premises are still contributing to the charity sector. Similarly, organisations which offer donations in kind or offer charitable organisations goods and services at a discount also help the charity sector to contain costs and maximise benefits.
For example, Callagenix offers a discount for charities on hosted phone services. Whilst the phone services which best meet the charity’s needs will vary according to the nature of the charity, typical services include the provision of answer phone services, call diverts and message notification for the smaller charities; whilst more substantial organisations may also opt for virtual switchboards and group divert services.
The discounts offered not only enable charities to benefit from a reduced service cost but also from reduced call charges. These discounts are normally only available to large corporate clients with high call volumes but Callagenix offers them to charities in recognition of the important work that charitable organisations carry out across the wider society. Taken in conjunction with an 0300 charity telephone number, charities are not only able to enhance the potential to be gained from their telephony system but also to control telephone costs.
No one can say that life is particularly easy for the charity sector. The recession saw a fall in donations allied to an increase in demand for charitable assistance and negative publicity over repeated requests for donations hasn’t helped. The more that organisations can do to boost their charitable giving initiatives, the better for the sector and for society as a whole. But charitable giving doesn’t only benefit charities; it also benefits businesses which are seen to step up and deliver the levels of corporate social responsibility which are expected by today’s consumers and investors.
As the charities aid foundation report says “given the scope for mutual benefit with well implemented social or charitable initiatives, there is no need for ‘corporate responsibility’ to be seen as a burden for companies to bear, but rather a new way of doing business.”