Organisations need to promote payroll giving

Charities need to work harder to sell the benefits of payroll giving if it is ever going to catch on in the UK, said a National Opinion Poll report out this week.

The poll found that a lack of awareness and communication remains the biggest barrier to take-up and once briefed, employees are almost unanimous in agreeing that it is an excellent way to give.

The study, commissioned by the Giving Campaign, suggests that wealthy donors who support payroll giving want a deeper engagement with the causes.

Only around 3 per cent of eligible employees in the UK have taken up payroll giving, far lower than in the US.

In 2001 to 2002, it generated ?xA3;72.5 million which although an increase on the previous year's ?xA3;55 million, still accounts for only a small chunk of the ?xA3;6 billion that is donated to charity each year.

Amanda Delew, director of the Giving Campaign, said: "The research is encouraging in showing how positive donors are about payroll giving. However, to boost take-up of the scheme, work needs to be done to improve communication between employers, charities and employees.

"For charities, it is a call to action to further involve their payroll giving donors."

At the Royal Bank of Scotland Group, 11,500 of its 94,000 UK employees donate ?xA3;4.5 million a year through payroll giving. The company triple matches donations so a ?xA3;10 monthly gift costs the employee ?xA3;7.80 and taking tax benefits into account results in ?xA3;31 to charity.

Community investment manager Jane McDonagh says: "The scheme itself can't be improved but communication by employers can. Too many see payroll giving as a human resources function but it should be at the heart of a corporate communications strategy."

At Rolls-Royce, which has achieved a 20 per cent take-up, a spokesman said: "I was surprised at the relatively low level of uptake in the UK.

Many people in our company are socially responsible and if we can promote this through the company then our reputation is enhanced."

However, payroll giving is almost unheard of in smaller companies. Peter Gilheany, communications manager at the Giving Campaign, said this and the failure to attract wealthy donors remained two of the major areas of concern.

Charities, he said, needed to work with professional fundraising organisations and companies to address this issue. Until then, he advised, payroll giving remained little more than a useful way of signing up small donors.

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