Directory of Social Change criticises 'falling transparency' on corporate giving

As it publishes its guide to company giving, the DSC says it is unsure if giving is actually up or down because legal reforms mean companies are no longer required to declare charitable donations in annual reports

The Directory of Social Change has criticised companies for an 'appalling' decline in transparency, as new figures reveal a sharp decline in corporate giving.

The Guide to UK Company Giving 2017/18, which was published yesterday, shows the top 400 companies made more than £420m of community contributions in the reporting period of 2014/15 or 2015.

The sum was £658m the last time the guide was published in 2015. However, the DSC, a training and publishing company, is unsure whether corporate donations are actually down because reforms to the Companies Act in 2013 mean companies are no longer required to declare charitable cash donations in their annual reports.

Denise Lillya, research manager at the DSC, said: "The most disappointing thing about this appalling fall in transparency is that these companies are some of the most philanthropic and engaged. They have a track record of donating large amounts of money to good causes, and it is now impossible to tell whether they are giving more, giving less or giving nothing at all.

"The declaration of a company’s cash donations is a tangible and unambiguous indicator of its commitment to the community. Knowing what individual companies are doing helps individual charities to find support, and also helps us to understand what’s happening to corporate giving in a wider sense."

The latest guide names the Lloyds Banking Group as the UK's top corporate giver. It contributed £64m in cash and in-kind giving, which was £40m more than the runner-up, the television company ITV.

But 91 companies that used to report how much money they gave to charity no longer do. Between them they gave £111m before the change in reporting rules. They include Goldman Sachs (last reported figure £22m), Vodafone (£21m) and Shell (£12m).

"Just because there is no legal obligation to report a figure, doesn’t mean they can’t," said Lillya. "Most companies are choosing to continue reporting their cash donations, and we would strongly encourage them to keep doing so."

The DSC guide costs £95 and includes information on the top corporate givers as well as the grants that are available.

Top 10 UK corporate givers

1 Lloyds Banking Group: £64m

2 ITV: £24m

3 Santander UK: £22m

4 Ecclesiastical Insurance Group: £20.4m

5 HSBC Holdings: £18.65m

6 Marks and Spencer Group: £15.5m

7 Goldman Sachs International: £14.3m

8 Impetus – The Private Equity Foundation: £11.6m

9 John Lewis Partnership: £11.6m

10 Royal Mail: £10.4m

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