As Spear’s wraps up its 1 Per Cent Campaign, we present our suggestions for donors based on what we’ve learnt, and charities minister Nick Hurd MP tells Mark Nayler why everyone should give 1 per cent of their salary to charity — just like he does
POLITICIANS ARE OFTEN criticised for saying one thing and doing another, but Nick Hurd MP, minister for Civil Society, whose portfolio includes charities, is leading by example and taking Spear’s 1 Per Cent Campaign very much to heart.
Indeed, Mr Hurd suggests it would be meaningful, practical and beneficial to give away 1 per cent of your salary, as he does: ‘I give away 1 per cent of my income every year, which seems fair and right.’ As Mr Hurd is a minister of state and earns £98,740, that makes nearly £1,000 every year. If everyone did this, ‘so much could be done with that money.’
As we — as a nation — give 0.7 per cent of our income to charity, this would involve a rise of almost a half in our donations. Compared to America, however, where 2.4 per cent of national income is given to charity, we still have a long way to go. The difference in what one might call the philanthropic culture of the two countries, Hurd thinks, is primarily responsible for the disparity.
‘I have a sense,’ he says, ‘that [giving] is a social norm there, that if you’re one of the lucky ones, if you’ve been successful, there is an expectation that you give back and that you’re seen to give back. That is not the culture that has been developed in this country, and I would like to see it developed.
‘We’re all aware — and should be uneasy — that inequality has deepened in the country over a long period of time. There’s anger and frustration across the country, directed at banks and what newspaper cartoonists portray as the “fat cats”, so it’s absolutely in the interests of the country and social cohesion that those who have been lucky in life should be seen to be putting back. We have to point out that people have responsibility to each other besides paying taxes, and I don’t think we’re anywhere near the States in terms of that.’
Such a shift in national attitudes to giving will not happen overnight, but Hurd thinks you have to start with the networks of people that are closest to you. If workplaces became more philanthropically aware and engaged, he suggests, that would be good start.
‘We’re influenced by our peer group and our networks, and there’s no more powerful network than the workplace and the people who are around us,’ he says. ‘I think if we want to convert more people to the joy of giving we have to be aware of those networks — the attitude of the employer, the attitude at the partnership table, the top tables at British businesses, and the signals they send down to the organisations about what’s expected are very important.’
TALKING ABOUT CHANGE is always easier than bringing it about, though, so a crucial question is how we might actually achieve all this and approach the magical 1 per cent target. With our 1 Per Cent Campaign, we have avoided trying to lecture the wealthy into a sense of obligation, believing it be too heavy-handed and, ultimately, ineffective. Instead, we have offered a range of causes — from the arts and education to homelessness and wounded veterans — with which we hope our readers can make an emotional connection and which they may then wish to support. It is an approach that Hurd commends.
‘We shouldn’t be preaching at people,’ he says, ‘or couching this in too preachy tones. I find if you can present HNWs with the right opportunity for them, you get the moment of inspiration, of connection. For me it’s about trying to make giving more compelling and trying to help the sector get its messages across to HNWs, rather than moralistic table-thumping about what people should be doing with their lives. That’s not my style.’
There is a mismatch in our giving statistics: Mr Hurd is quick to point out the importance of the HNW community to the UK’s charities, citing the statistic that 9 per cent of the population does around 60 per cent of the giving in the UK. However, another recent statistic shows that the wealthy give 0.7 per cent of their income to charity while everyone else gives 1.1 per cent. Thus the wealthy give proportionately less — but of more.
There is much room for improvement. ‘We are a relatively generous country, but a striking fact presented to me recently by the Charities Aid Foundation is that we spend about as much on giving to charities as we do on cheese,’ he points out. ‘That is where our value system seems to be at the moment.’
Box: What Spear’s has learnt from the 1 Per Cent Campaign
>> Philanthropy should be long-term and sustainable: One-off gifts are useful but a relationship over time with a charity whose work you really believe in benefits both the giver and the charity.
>> Charities need not just money but business expertise: Professional and entrepreneurs can help their charities with pro bono activity.
>> Philanthropists should ask to see their gifts’ results: The best way to ensure your giving is being used effectively is for charities to show achievements.
>> To increase giving, a ground-up approach is needed: Workplaces should promote chosen causes among staff and encourage philanthropic engagement.
Why is it, I ask, that the majority of donations in this country are given by those with substantially less money than members of the HNW community? ‘Quite a lot of wealth generation in this country has been relatively recent and is a bit insecure, and perhaps is not rooted in a tradition of philanthropy or helping others. I think that’s a challenge to us all to try to engage with those people and get them to help others and get a huge amount out of it in the process.’
HNWs, whether their money is old or new, are fond of a gala charity bash, happily paying thousands for a ticket and the glitz and reputational boost brought by attendance at such events. But these donations are often made on a one-off basis, so their impact is not as great as it could be. What Hurd wants to see — and what Spear’s has been encouraging with its campaign — is more involved and sustained giving, where the donor does more than just write a cheque or attend a party.
ORGANISATIONS EXIST IN the UK to facilitate such giving. In issue 25, we profiled venture philanthropy organisation Impetus, which places pro-bono experts with charities to improve their infrastructure and business acumen. Hurd applauds the model, because it enables HNWs and business leaders to ‘bring to the table their network, their experience and the insights that they’ve developed over their careers. It works in favour of the giver, too, because it helps make sure that the money is used effectively.’
As well as supporting a more sustained type of philanthropy and helping charities make their money go further, organisations such as Impetus are addressing a crucial skills gap in the third sector. Hurd describes that gap with a politician’s diplomacy: ‘I don’t want to be condescending, because actually running a charity is about the hardest thing you can do, but on the whole they tend to be brilliant at what they were set up to do, and the service they deliver, but they tend to be lacking a bit in terms of fundamental business skills and the management of money, talking to money, marketing.
‘Social attitudes are changing, and new technology means that people are communicating in different ways. Whole new opportunities are opening up with delivering public services. All this is requiring skills and professionalism and basic business and leadership skills — and that’s very challenging for the sector.’ HNWs and professionals from the private sector, therefore, have a lot to offer UK charities in this respect, and we hope our campaign has gone some way to forging relationships between business and philanthropy for the benefit of both parties.
We also hope that we have highlighted the range of ways in which HNWs can become involved in philanthropy and the diversity of good causes available. As Hurd says, ‘I think initiatives like yours are very important because they get people thinking. If more HNWs looked at the campaign, they might think, “Well, actually, how much do I give?” You get people thinking about their giving.’