Benefact Group and Ansvar set to grow to give more to good causes

Third Sector Promotion Ansvar

Kirsty Marrins talks to Benefact Group chief executive Mark Hews about its ambitions

Mark Hews (photo by Clint Randall

Benefact Group has a long history of making a difference. Over 135 years, in fact. Its humble beginnings started in 1887 with concerned citizens providing church insurance as protection to disadvantaged parishes. As the business grew and branched out, it was in the unique position to offer back its profits to help the community. 

Fast-forward to present day and Benefact Group comprises about 2,000 people working across 35 brands globally, including not-for-profit and charity insurer Ansvar and ethical investment company EdenTree. As chief executive Mark Hews explains: “We have a fantastic team of colleagues here and we’re all united behind one goal, which is that we’re here for good causes and the greater good of society.”

Ansvar has been a specialist in the charity and faith markets for over 60 years. The insurer prides itself on providing an outstanding service, having a deep knowledge and understanding of the third sector and paying out claims swiftly.

As part of Ansvar’s ongoing support, it partners with three charities that work to help children and young adults make healthy lifestyle choices. One of those charities is the Alcohol Education Trust – a small, focused charity, which works across the UK to help young people understand the effects of alcohol and illegal substances. 

Through Ansvar’s support, AET has given over 20,000 children and young people the knowledge, skills and resilience to make safer choices. The trust’s chief executive, Helena Conibear, said: “Ansvar Insurance is an extraordinary company, which is so engaged with us and really cares about really improving outcomes for young people. We have been lucky enough to have been supported by Ansvar for the past 10 years and to be included in learning and knowledge days, and for its staff to visit and volunteer with us, is a rare and special thing that we value beyond words.” 

While most financial companies are driven by profit, Benefact Group is driven by giving it away – making it an anomaly in the financial services industry. 

Currently it is the UK’s third largest corporate donor, with the ambition of being number one. Not for the accolade, Hews is quick to add, but rather because the more money it donates, the more good causes it is supporting and the greater the contribution to the good of society. 

For Hews, reaching the £200m giving milestone was critical, because it’s what the group is all about. “Giving to good causes is what drives the values and the ethics of the company in an enormous way. We’ve set ourselves the goal of giving £250m by 2025, and we’re on track to achieve that.” 

Donations like these are needed now more than ever. Charities are still feeling the effects of the loss of income from Covid-19 and now the cost-of-living crisis is impacting charitable giving, coupled with the rise in inflation rates and goods and services. To help charities through this challenging time, Benefact Groups Movement for Good initiative allows people to nominate charities to receive a £1,000 donation. This year it’ll be giving away over £1m to good causes.

Reflecting on the 10 years that Hews has been at the helm as CEO, it was setting the first donation goal of £50m, at a time when the business was actually losing money, that gave everyone the drive and the motivation to turn the business around. An ambitious growth strategy has seen the development of new products, acquisitions and development of existing brands – supporting sustainable growth over the years, leading to more profits to donate.

This growth is evidenced by the fact that the group has given away more money to good causes in the past five years than in the previous 125. 

Hews shares that the aspiration is to double the business, because “that means doubling what we can give”. All brands within the group, including not-for-profit and charity insurer Ansvar, have been given growth targets to help the company meet its ambitions.

At all times throughout our interview, Hews is keen to stress that the success of the group is down to its customers and the core values of the 2,000 strong employees who drive the business growth to make giving possible.

“A huge thank you, on behalf of Benefact Group and the 10,000-plus charities that have been supported. Our ambition to double our business, in order to donate more to good causes, can only happen with your support. Help us to spread the word so that we can meet our goal to donate £250m by 2025.”

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