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Nick Clegg on your reception desk?

Giving White Paper – last chance to tell the government what you think

Do you want Eric Pickles stuffing envelopes for you? Or to borrow a spare desk in Downing Street?

These are just two of the – maybe unlikely – possibilities from proposals in the government’s new Giving White Paper launched in May. The publication proposes a number of different plans to help people donate more time and money to the Voluntary and Community Sector.

That giving  includes Ministers and the Government: Ministers have promised to set an example by spending one day a year volunteering. They are also going to provide free space on government websites (such as Directgov) to promote online giving. Another measure is change to Gift Aid – “enabling online filing to reduce paperwork, allowing charities to thank major donors more generously, and enabling a Gift Aid-style payment on small cash donations”.

Other suggestions to persuade people to donate more money include allowing people to make small donations at ATMs and when paying by card. There is also a proposal to reduce inheritance tax to 36% for anyone who gives at least 10% of their estate to charity.

Social Action Fund

The government is creating Social Action Fund of about £10 million, which will be used for a number of activities:

  • They will “support new models that incentivise people to give, such as “complementary currencies that offer people credit for volunteering”. One example they mention is “Spice Time Credits”. Also, they will create Challenge Prizes, where they will create competitions on the theme of giving and the best example will win a cash prize. An example they give is, a prize for the best mobile phone app to encourage giving.
  • Some of this SAF cash will go to Philanthropy UK  to create a website to encourage and advise philanthropists. Philanthropists are wealthy givers who take an interest in how their money is spent. Another £1 million from the Social Action Fund has been already allocated to a website called Do-it, that helps people who want to volunteer.

Local Infrastructure Support

They also promise further £30 million fund to support local infrastructure in the Local Infrastructure Fund. This will be for “better-integrated support services for front-line civil society organisations.” The type of activity the fund will support includes: “developing new services and redesigning existing ones; establishing new partnerships, alliances, mergers and/or shared back-office provision; staff training for new role; and purchasing expert advice and support.”

Other support

Finally there is an £80 million fund to match donations and volunteering, under the Community First set of proposals. £30 million will be for a Neighbourhood Matched Fund that gives cash to community-led projects. This is targeted at areas with “low social capital and significant deprivation”. To get the money, communities have to match the government financial contribution with their own volunteer time as well as “cash, goods and services.” There will be an additional £50 million Endowment Match Challenge that will build philanthropic donations.

The government is already providing space out-of-hours for voluntary groups working with families (Relate is borrowing rooms in the Department for Education HQ in London for counselling sessions). Using Downing Street for your London base might be too ambitious -  but asking to borrow spare offices on Merseyside for sessional activities is certainly worth trying.

Your feedback

The main consultation opportunity was with the government’s previous Green Paper on Giving. One comment made then (by the Equality and Diversity Forum) was that disabled people often found it more difficult to volunteer (because of the stigma attached to mental health conditions or the lack of funds for voluntary groups to make “reasonable adjustments”)

There is still the opportunity to respond on the White Paper proposals by 1/7/11. What do you think? We can put all of your comments into group feedback which we will send to government. We think a combined response will have more weight.

 If you want to respond directly, send it to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.