Opinion: Third Voice - Quality Mark can help payroll giving finally take off

Peter O'Hara, managing director of Workplace Giving UK

I was pleased to see you covered the launch of the new Payroll Giving Quality Mark (Third Sector, 25 January), but I was disappointed that in the same edition Nick Cater argued that this is a "fairly pointless initiative".

Having worked in payroll giving for seven years with employers throughout the UK, I strongly believe this initiative will drive forward payroll giving and the fundraising potential it offers charities.

The Quality Mark will encourage the 10,000 employers who currently operate payroll giving in the UK to look again at how they communicate and promote it to their staff. For those employers who don't operate the scheme, this will, I hope, be the incentive to start offering this benefit to their staff.

I do not believe employees view payroll giving as "boring, complex or lacking in choice". Is it any more or less boring than setting up a direct debit? It is certainly not complex - and, as for any lack of choice, employees are free to choose any UK registered charity.

In most cases, employees are simply not aware that their company offers the scheme or of the added benefits of giving to charity in this way.

Most higher-rate taxpayers we come across are under the illusion that their chosen charities can claim their 40 per cent back through the Gift Aid scheme - which, of course, they can't.

As a professional fundraising organisation, we work with employers who have 10, 20, 30 and even 50 per cent participation levels among their workforce. However, this is not the norm, and the Quality Mark will be the first step towards achieving this.

For most employers, obtaining 10 per cent participation will not come only from signing up to the scheme - they will have to promote the scheme effectively throughout their workforce and become fully committed to annual ongoing promotions to achieve the Gold Quality Mark.

For many years, payroll giving has not taken off in the way everybody would like, but this is down to a lack of awareness. The Quality Mark can only help in raising awareness of this effective scheme.

Having spoken with many employers ahead of the launch of the Quality Mark, there is a real sense of enthusiasm for this initiative, and I do believe this will turn into increased income for the charitable sector.

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