INSTITUTE OF FUNDRAISING: Do we in the voluntary sector donate enough?

Lindsay Boswell, chief executive of the Institute of Fundraising

I will always be a supporter of The Giving Campaign. Aside from the money involved in service contracting, it is one of the most high-profile examples of charity and government partnership. The campaign has achieved a great deal, not least showcased charities working together to encourage change and influence thinking. This, along with the Legacy Promotion Campaign, has helped to create a climate where more charities work together and pool knowledge and best practice.

A difficult but necessary area of work the Giving Campaign is examining is attitudes to and the culture of giving. It is interesting and exciting looking at trying to merge our individual thinking around giving into our considerations around our own financial planning. In this instance, we constantly look at the US and its attitudes. Financial planning and planned giving are as one in the US, with figures constantly trumpeted. In the UK, just 1.3 per cent of household expenditure is donated and this drops alarmingly to 0.7 per cent for the richest 20 per cent of the population. In the US, it is, depending on which figures you look at, roughly 1 per cent more. But before we get high and mighty, I wonder just how the figures would look for the 500,000 people employed in the voluntary sector? Do we exceed the national average and only give in a tax-efficient way? Do we take a planned approach to our giving? Do fundraisers, who understand the argument more, give a higher percentage than others in the voluntary sector? Are these uncomfortable questions legitimate or just offensive and unhelpful? Let's move away from the personal to more comfortable ground. Does your employer allow payroll giving? If not, what are you doing to shame them into increasing your gift by a further 10 per cent?

I suspect that we, the workforce of the sector, don't come out of such questioning smelling of roses. I base such comment on a survey of one - me.

Last night, I presented the accounts at our local church and pointed out that we all needed to average £1 a day for each person on the electoral roll to survive and break even. Last Sunday, as the collection hymn started, I discovered that there was only a £10 note in my wallet and it hurt putting it into the Gift Aid envelope. I only go to the monthly family service and normally put in a £5. I don't have any dedicated committed giving in place, although I volunteer for the Church all the time. I felt like I was doing my bit. What really hurt me was I thought I was and I had managed to fool myself.

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