Philanthropy: Whatever happened to the Giving White Paper?

Four years on, have the ambitious proposals in the Giving White Paper been a success? Susannah Birkwood gets the sector's views

The Giving White Paper was launched with much fanfare in 2011. Presented by David Cameron, the Prime Minister, and Nick Hurd, then civil society minister, to an audience of charity leaders and social entrepreneurs, the paper consisted of between 30 and 40 proposals with the ambitious objective of bringing about a "step change in giving".

The most significant pledges were an extra £30m to support voluntary sector infrastructure and a £10m Social Action Fund. Other features included the promotion of community giving through match funding, a major campaign to make payroll giving a social norm and improvements to Gift Aid.

But how successful has the government been? Has there been a transformation in the public's inclination to give their time and money?

Third Sector asked the Office for Civil Society to detail the work it had done to fulfil its aims and asked sector bodies, including the Institute of Fundraising, the National Council for Voluntary Organisations and the Charities Aid Foundation, to provide their assessments of what has been achieved.

The main successes

Match funding

The £80m Community First programme provided match-funded investment for deprived areas. It consisted of the £30m Neighbourhood Match Fund for community-led projects and the Endowment Match Challenge to build up an endowment to invest in local charities. The NMF funded 18,000 projects; communities contributed £94m and the government matched this with £27m. The EMC raised £75m from individuals and corporations; the government matched this with £37m and invested in the Community First Endowment. So far the endowment has generated £2m in returns, £1.7m of which has been paid out to 762 charities.

The government also matched donations made on the fundraising platform It provided £250,000 during the platform's Grow Your Tenner campaign, which generated £1.3m for local groups across the UK.

Verdict The EMC raised £25m less from donors than it hoped (the government had said it would raise £100m and match this with £50m), but the OCS says it was a significant success. This assessment is echoed by Michael Birtwistle, senior policy officer at the NCVO, and Hannah Terrey, head of policy and campaigns at CAF. The OCS also cites the NMF as an achievement. Stephen Mallinson, chief executive of, says the past four years have shown that match funding is an effective way to incentivise giving; but he says it is not known whether schemes such as Grow Your Tenner will continue to attract government support.

Legacy giving

The government reduced inheritance tax by 10 per cent for people who leave at least 10 per cent of their estates to charity, and the Cabinet Office supported Remember A Charity Week, during which more than 250 new law firms agreed to prompt people to leave gifts when writing their wills. Trials it supported found that, when nudged, people are three times more likely to leave gifts in their wills. The percentage of solicitors who "always or sometimes" prompt is now 65 per cent, compared with 61 per cent in 2013.

Verdict The sector lamented the absence of legacy giving in the 2011 white paper, but it became a central theme of the document Giving White Paper - One Year On in 2012, making the government's achievements here an unexpected success. The Remember A Charity Week campaign brought excellent results and the OCS support for it draws praise from Peter Lewis, chief executive of the IoF.

Mixed results

Transforming Local Infrastructure fund

TLI was a £30m pot administered by the Big Lottery Fund on behalf of the Office for Civil Society to provide funding for voluntary sector infrastructure groups in England and test new ways of working in their local areas. It gave 74 groups between £258,000 and £965,000 each to spend over 18 months.

The BLF accepts that the results were mixed: "Some partnerships were very successful, others less so and for still others the impact will take some time to be seen," says a BLF spokeswoman. "TLI allowed space for organisations to think and relationships to develop, but the need for more time was also advocated."

Verdict The umbrella body Navca, which evaluated the programme in 2013, concluded that although TLI had overwhelmingly helped to initiate work that benefited organisations, not all the partnerships it facilitated between groups had been successful. Navca says that one of TLI's biggest successes was enabling groups to set up local giving schemes to help small charities raise money.

Payroll giving

In 2013, the government consulted the sector on how to improve payroll giving and increase donations. Since then, it has reduced the processing time for most donations from 60 to 35 days and says it is facilitating a memorandum of understanding – signed in late March – between payroll-giving stakeholders to improve information-sharing and create a more transparent system. On the downside, funding was withdrawn this year from the Payroll Giving Quality Mark scheme and the National Payroll Giving Excellence Awards, both set up to recognise employers that encourage payroll giving among staff.

Verdict Hannah Terrey of the Charities Aid Foundation says the minor changes made after the consultation have helped in a small way to move the scheme forward, and Peter Lewis of the IoF praises the government for its support. But Linda Cohen, manager of the Geared for Giving campaign run by Workplace Giving UK, says she is disheartened that the government has not done more to drive payroll giving forward and says the funding cuts will have a "catastrophic" effect.

Social Action Fund

The SAF, administered by the Social Investment Business, ran from 2011 to 2013 with the aim of helping proven models of social action, primarily volunteering, to scale up. It funded 40 projects with £24m, supporting more than half a million volunteers. These included volunteering schemes for young people who had completed the National Citizen Service, training for volunteer managers and schools-based giving programmes such as Giving Nation and Go-Givers. This year, however, funding was withdrawn from Giving Nation and Go-Givers, both run by the Citizenship Foundation.

Verdict The white paper announced that the fund would be £10m in size, and the £24m the government ended up giving was much more generous. Terrey of CAF says the fund proved to be positive and powerful in helping small organisations develop, pilot and scale their ideas, and that it has enabled several strong projects to grow. But Andy Thornton, chief executive of the Citizenship Foundation, questions the wisdom of cutting funding from Giving Nation and Go-Givers – although the government said at the start that the funding was finite – while it continues to support the more costly National Citizen Service.

Gift Aid

The government launched the Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme in 2013, allowing charities to claim Gift Aid without paperwork on small donations totalling up to £5,000 a year. This made it possible to claim on donations from street and bucket collections. This year's Budget pledged to increase the limit to £8,000 a year. The government simplified the process for claiming Gift Aid on donated goods in charity shops and restated its intention to allow intermediaries such as the fundraising website JustGiving a greater role in operating Gift Aid. It also extended its review of the rules on donor benefit to look at charities that claim Gift Aid on membership and entrance fees, which could work for or against charities.

Verdict Although the aims of the GASDS were laudable and the scheme was generally welcomed by the sector, the complexity of the eligibility requirements means that fewer charities than hoped have been able to benefit. The GASDS raised only £6m in its first year – far less than the £50m a year the government had envisaged.

The imminent change to Gift Aid through intermediaries was not mentioned in the white paper and was therefore a pleasant surprise, but most of the other changes to Gift Aid have been viewed by the sector as tokenistic.

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