19 November 2005
by Rosamond Hutt
UK's Home Office launched yesterday a new strategy in its campaign to promote a culture of giving after research revealed that the public is becoming less inclined to donate money to good causes.
The Home Secretary Charles Clarke launched the report, "A Generous Society", at a conference in London yesterday where he outlined new measures to help foster a more philanthropic attitude amongst Britons, including a £9 million funding package.
The report sets out the Home Office's plans to work with communities and the volunteer sector to build a society that donates more of its money and time to good causes.
Speaking at the conference, Mr Clarke said: "The decision to donate, like the decision to volunteer, is a private one, but we are determined to do all we can to make it as easy as possible for those who want to contribute to do so.
"In this way we hope to develop a culture where charitable giving is a natural part of everyone's life."
The new initiative includes the setting up of charity accounts at secondary schools in England, with pupils encouraged to raise money for good causes by building on a government grant of £500.
It will also see the extension of a curriculum programme to primary schools called Giving Nation which inspires young people to take part in charitable and community activity.
In addition, the Home Office has announced the launch of a partnership with the Institute of Fundraising which aims to help charities make better use of existing tax-efficient fundraising schemes.
According to the report, between two-thirds and three-quarters of the public regularly give to charity, donating over £7 billion a year.
However, the total value and frequency of charitable donations has remained unchanged since 1988 despite the introduction of various forms of tax relief.
The report pointed out that "the proportion of people giving is declining and that the amounts given have not kept up with increases in national wealth".
It also found that despite outstanding acts of individual philanthropy, the poorest in society give a greater proportion of their income to charity than the rich.
Mr Clarke said that as the end of 2005 and the Year of the Volunteer approached, it was an opportunity to reflect and build upon the British public's generosity.
He said: "In England alone, over 20 million people give their time to support the issues and causes that matter to them, and many more of us give money - collectively adding up to £7 billion every year.
"In the last 12 months alone, the public response to tragic events such as the southeast Asian earthquake, the Asian tsunami and the attacks on London on 7 July have brought home to many of us the real benefit that can come from the support we provide."