Funds for volunteering announced in green paper on giving

Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude launched the paper, which also says £80m will be available for the Community First programme

Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude launched the green paper
Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude launched the green paper

The government has unveiled two new volunteering initiatives and said that a total of £80m will be allocated to the Community First programme that was first announced by ministers in June.

The moves come in a green paper on giving, published today. It sets out wide-ranging ideas, including the use of online and social media, for making giving and voluntary action in the UK "as easy and attractive as possible".

The discussion document says the government will set up a Volunteering Match Fund worth up to £10m a year that will match private donations to volunteering projects.

It will also set up an England-wide Volunteering Infrastructure programme, worth £42.5m over four years, that will "provide brokerage as well as front-line support to volunteers and the organisations that manage them".

The green paper says the Community First programme will consist of £30m for grants to small organisations and £50m of match funding for local endowments over the next four years.

Community First "will seek to encourage the giving of time, money, goods, services and facilities for wider community benefit by matching these donations with money", the document says.

This programme is being seen as the successor to the previous government's Grassroots Grants, which totalled £130m in the years 2008 to 2011.

On financial incentives for giving, the green paper says: "We know that tax reliefs for charitable giving provide incentives for donors and support to charities more generally. We will review the relationship between financial incentives and giving."

The green paper was launched today by Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office, and will be taken forward by Nick Hurd, the Minister for Civil Society.

Maude said in a statement: "People giving time, money, assets, skills and knowledge all drive social action and help make life better for all. This green paper offers practical, common-sense ways we can boost charitable giving."

Five elements are identified in the green paper that it says will build social action by changing social norms:

  • Opportunities: the government wants banks to says how giving can be facilitated at ATM machines. It also wants to hear more ideas about cost-free giving, such as the search engine Everyclick, and online and mobile giving methods.
  • Information: charities - particularly smaller ones - are asked to improve their social impact reporting to help defuse public uncertainty about their effectiveness.
  • Visibility: the green paper appeals for ideas about better use of social media to encourage giving. It also suggests honouring acts of giving more broadly, including thank-you letters from ministers and a national day to celebrate donors.
  • Exchange: the document calls for a discussion about peer-to-peer financing to connect sponsors to those seeking funds, and about the best approaches to time banking.
  • Support: this section asks whether foundations should be obliged to make minimum annual payouts, and what the government can do more generally to foster an increase in giving of time and money.

Responses to the green paper should be sent to by 9 March. A white paper with firm policy proposals is expected in spring 2011.

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