Senior execs should drive corporate charity work, says CFA
UK firms need radical overhaul to create more opportunities for employees to connect with charitable organisations, new research advises
Companies must give their employees greater opportunities to engage with charity groups, according to the latest report by the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF). Stemming from an all-party Parliamentary inquiry chaired by Rt Hon David Blunkett MP, Baroness Tyler of Enfield and Andrew Percy MP, the report has proposed a series of reform aimed at allowing more workers to donate their time and/or money to charities throughout their lives.
One of the report’s major managerial recommendations is to make a commitment towards charities a key obligation for employers and recruiters who are looking to hire new senior executives. Among other highlights, the CAF recommends that business schools should include modules on philanthropy on MBA courses, encouraging future business leaders to think about the value of creating social good through their work.
The report also advises the government to set up a task-force of leading professionals to drive developments in digital giving, while charity work should be an integral part of careers advice, citizenship and personal development at schools. Meanwhile, businesses are urged to create “giving circles” in the workplace, providing employees with a range of ways to support good causes.
Baroness Tyler said: “We need a shake up in British businesses to make sure that employers give their staff the time and opportunities to support charities. However a genuine change in corporate culture must come from the top. We need business leaders who are passionate about bringing out charity support in their workplace and can show leadership in charity work and philanthropy. [Our] recommendations suggest some straightforward changes, including tax incentives, that would help to bring about this change and encourage more employees to give of their time and money through their workplace.”
Recent surveys suggest the British public – and young people in particular – have an increasing appetite for improved ethics in the workplace. CAF research found that 65% of 18 to 24-year-olds said they would be more inclined to buy a product or service from a company that makes donations to charity, compared with 51% of the general public. Similarly, a separate ComRes survey found that 61% of young workers say they are more likely to work for a company that backs charities, compared with 45% of the public.
However, those figures are somewhat balanced by significant signs that charitable donations from the public have actually slumped over the past few decades. According to research conducted by CAF and the University of Bristol, while 32% of households donated to charity in 1978, that figure stood at 27% in 2010. For those under 30, the figures show a fall in donations from 8% in 1980 to 3% in 2010. As such, through the latest CAF report’s 18 recommendations, it is hoped that obstacles to household giving will be removed.
Former home secretary Blunkett said: “Businesses are so influential in our society – in the communities they work in, in their conversations with customers and with their own employees. Some 10 days ago, the governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney called for greater investment in ‘social capital’, and one key way to achieve this is to stimulate greater corporate social responsibility. Jointly with employees, as well as directly, businesses can contribute to the broader wellbeing of society.”
He added: “Many companies do an excellent job supporting charities. But by making it easier for corporate Britain to do more, we also need to recognise that some business leaders think this should be left to government alone, while some in government think it should be left to philanthropy. At a time when the recession has left people sceptical of many corporate institutions, we hope that our recommendations will help build trust in business, provide a vital boost for charities and stimulate giving in the workplace.”