Analysis: Giving White Paper - 'Building giving from the bottom up'

The government has launched a set of proposals to transform giving culture in the UK, partly through cultural and behavioural change. Sophie Hudson assesses them

Cameron met pupils at white paper launch
Cameron met pupils at white paper launch

The Giving White Paper contains between 30 and 40 proposals and pledges, interlaced with references to existing measures, to help increase the giving of time and money in the UK to charitable causes.

The paper's most notable features are an extra £30m to support voluntary sector infrastructure and a £10m Social Action Fund. These are developments of two volunteering funding programmes worth £80m that were first mooted in an earlier green paper (see below).

Some sections of the white paper focus on measures that are important but not new, such as changes to Gift Aid, a reduction in inheritance tax for those who leave more than 10 per cent of their estates to charity - both of which were announced in the Budget - and measures to reduce red tape that were put forward recently by the Big Society Deregulation Taskforce.

Leading by example

Some proposals are new and fairly weighty, even though they do not involve large sums of government money. These include enabling giving through cashpoints (see below) and a fresh campaign to promote payroll giving.

Others might seem comparatively minor, but are intended to have a gradual, cumulative effect, with a particular focus on the government leading by example. These include a pledge by ministers to volunteer for one day a year and the opening-up of some government buildings to voluntary organisations and community groups.

The white paper has received a largely positive response. The main point of criticism has been that it contains nothing on lifetime legacies. These allow donors to give assets to charities but retain the right to benefit from them during their lifetimes. The Institute of Fundraising, for example, said it was disappointed there was "no evident push from the government to encourage and increase legacy giving among donors in the UK".

Nick HurdIndeed, the paper is silent on tax, apart from the measures mentioned above that were announced in the Budget. When Nick Hurd, the Minister for Civil Society, was pressed on this at the launch of the white paper, he said that Gift Aid was under permanent review at the Treasury, but he should say no more for fear of "straying into tax".

The paper does not suggest there should be no role for public investment in the sector. It contains a number of pledges to put public money into a range of new projects; but the sums involved are limited and are considerably less than Labour put into the sector.

Unlike most white papers, it contains no proposals for changes in legislation, but instead calls for a cultural change to make giving a social norm. The government appears to believe this change can be achieved by advancing gradually on many fronts at once, using a range of prompts and nudges rather than changes to the law and large extra injections of public money.

Changing habits

The Prime Minister, David Cameron, emphasised in his speech at the launch of the white paper that this was what made his government's approach different. "In the past, the left focused on the state and the right focused on the market," he said. "We're harnessing that space in between - society: the hidden wealth of our nation."

It is evident that the government is interested in behavioural science as a means of changing giving habits. The white paper mentions, in reference to cashpoint giving, the Cabinet Office Strategy Unit's behavioural insight team, which was set up to explore ways to encourage policy change without legislation, and the green paper that preceded it includes numerous references to articles and books on behaviour change.

However, the white paper accepts that ministers cannot force change to happen. "We agree that it is not the role of government to seek to impose a social norm of giving," it says. "We will continue to work in partnership with charities, community groups and social enterprises to support ideas that aim to encourage social action from the bottom up."

- See Editorial



Banks, building societies and cash machine operators have agreed to enable charity giving at UK cash machines next year. Link, which provides the infrastructure for most machines, says the system will work with all 100 million Link-enabled cards in the UK.

Cash machineThe white paper says operators will decide whether to offer donations at particular machines and will choose beneficiaries "so that a diverse range, including local charities and disaster appeals, can be supported". The donation option will be a separate item on the main menu, it says, so that people are not delayed if they just want to withdraw cash.

HSBC has already offered donation by cash machine for more than six years. It has raised more than £630,000 for seven major charities and worked well for disaster appeals.

The behavioural insight team of the Cabinet Office will coordinate research into different approaches to ATM giving, and the Treasury will be asked to apply the new Gift Aid on small donations to it. This allows Gift Aid claims of up to £5,000 to be made without paperwork.




The Giving Green Paper, unveiled in December last year, proposed £80m of funding for volunteering infrastructure and a volunteering match fund over the next four years, and £80m for Community First, a match funding programme of which more details have already been given.

The white paper says £40m of the first £80m has been allocated to volunteering and social action. Of this £40m, £30m will be spent on a local infrastructure fund and £10m on a new Social Action Fund. Both will be delivered over the next two years.

The paper focuses on how the Social Action Fund will be spent on projects as diverse as supporting post-National Citizen Service activities, training volunteer managers and school-based giving programmes. A spokesman for the Cabinet Office says a process for applying for money from the fund will be available soon.

The £30m local infrastructure fund will be delivered by the Big Lottery Fund. This was a recommendation of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations' Funding Commission. It will go towards improving support for front-line civil society organisations.

A spokeswoman for the Big Lottery Fund says it hopes to launch the programme in July. She says it aims to modernise and improve the relevance of services and will be open to general and volunteering infrastructure organisations. She says further details on how the process is to be run will be available in due course.

The spokesman for the Cabinet Office says he cannot confirm what the remaining £40m of the funds proposed in the green paper will be spent on, but says a decision on this will be made after two years, when the various projects have been assessed.

Separately, the white paper announces a Challenge Fund that will donate prizes worth up to £100,000 to the best solutions to various volunteer challenges. The Cabinet Office spokesman says a budget for this fund has not yet been finalised.

There is also a pledge of £1m in match funding for the London Evening Standard newspaper's Dispossessed Fund, which helps Londoners out of poverty, and of £400,000 - half each from the Cabinet Office and the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts - for an England roll-out of Spice, a project based in Wales that gives people time credits or complementary currencies for volunteering.

The paper mentions a further £1m of funding from the Cabinet Office and the Department for Work and Pensions over the next two years for the volunteering database Do-it. It also refers to £700,000 over the next three years for the Association of Charitable Foundations and the Community Foundation Network for their Philanthropy UK project, which gives advice to aspiring philanthropists: this sum is part of the strategic partners programme announced earlier this year.




- £80m: Community First:

Predominantly match-funded investment under way for deprived areas, consisting of:

£30m: Neighbourhood Matched Fund Programme for community-led projects

£50m: Endowment Match Challenge to build up local grant-giving endowment funds


- £40m in volunteering and social action:

New programme will run for two years and then be reviewed. It will consist of:

1. £10m Social Action Fund

Projects funded will include:

Self-managed volunteering pilots

Proposals for building participation

Schools-based giving programmes

Post-National Citizen Service activities

Using opportunity from 2012 Games

Training volunteer managers

Supporting ex-civil servants to volunteer

2. £30m local infrastructure fund

To be delivered by the Big Lottery Fund


Other money:

1. New funds

£1m Evening Standard Dispossessed Fund

£400,000 from government and Nesta to trial Spice in England

Challenge Prizes for volunteering schemes

£1m for volunteering website Do-it from Cabinet Office, Department for Work and Pensions and Department of Health

2. Existing funds

£700,000 over next three years for Philanthropy UK

£20,000 bursary for 500 senior community organisers in the first year

Near Neighbours: £5m over three years - Department for Communities and Local Government with the Church of England


Other measures:

Giving through cash machines

'Round pound' initiatives

Giving Summit in the autumn

Round table by NPC with private banks

Removing red tape

Business Connectors and a payroll giving campaign - part of Every Business Commits

Tax relief for giving art to the nation

Celebrating giving through honours system

Day of volunteering by all ministers

More volunteering by civil servants

Work on impact reporting

More government data on giving

Letting charities use government buildings

Using government websites for donations.

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