Lib Dems get behind charitable giving bank accounts

Charities spokeswoman Jenny Willott says they will ease private donations

The Government should promote private giving by piloting charitable giving accounts in publicly owned banks, according to Liberal Democrat charities spokeswoman Jenny Willott.

Willott said "easy giving accounts" would allow people to operate charitable giving accounts alongside their current accounts. She said they would offer charities a new platform to engage with a vast pool of potential donors.

"High-income donors would certainly welcome the ability to keep records of their charitable giving for reclaiming tax through their normal banking practices," she said. "But this isn't just something for the extremely wealthy. It would make hassle-free, tax-effective and secure online giving available to anyone with a bank account."

She told Third Sector that the idea might be included in a "spokesperson's paper" on Liberal Democrat priorities for the sector ahead of the general election.

Comparable schemes in the US had attracted hundreds of millions of dollars in charitable giving but the nearest UK equivalents, Charities Aid Foundation accounts, were poorly advertised and were not widely taken up, she said.

The Government had a major opportunity to pilot the scheme in banks that had been brought largely into public ownership during the financial crisis, Willott said.

The Queen's bank, Coutts, launched a charitable giving account last week. Mark Evans, head of philanthropy at the bank, said the account was set up in response to customer feedback. "My prediction is that every major financial institution will be offering some kind of charitable giving account in the not too distant future," he said (Third Sector Online, 5 November).

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