Charities should promote payroll giving, MPs are told

Journalist Chris Blackhurst says company bosses should also do more to encourage it

Houses of Parliament
Houses of Parliament

Charities should do more to encourage people to donate through payroll giving, MPs on the Public Administration Select Committee have been told.

Giving evidence yesterday on the funding of the voluntary sector by the banking and hedge fund industry, Chris Blackhurst, City editor of the London Evening Standard, said charities were putting too much emphasis on people writing large cheques.

He said he could not think of one piece of charity mail he had received that focused on payroll giving – only ones that encouraged him to write a cheque or set up a direct debit.

"These are quite complicated things," he said. "The beauty of payroll is that it's automatic and it's quick. I don't think that charities do enough."

Blackhurst said another key reason why payroll giving was not more successful was that company bosses were not taking a lead.

"I would say that if you worked for any organisation, and if you see that your boss gives 5 per cent, then you're more likely to follow suit than if they don't," he said.

He suggested all FTSE 100 or FTSE 250 company chief executives should give 5 per cent of their earnings to charity.

Sir Sandy Crombie, senior independent director at the Royal Bank of Scotland and another witness at the hearing, said about 10 per cent of RBS staff contributed to charity through payroll giving.

He said he did not agree with the idea of employees being told to do what the chief executive was doing.

He would expect charities to want more regular giving, he said, rather than focusing only on one-off lump sums from donors.

"If you're out there trying to provide a service, then you need the certainty that the funding will be there to allow you to invest in having the skills, resources and facilities necessary to provide that service on an ongoing basis," he said.

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