2013: The Review of Our Year

The last twelve months have been extremely busy for CAF’s Policy and Campaigns team, which has seen a lot of change, and we as move into the New Year we take our annual look back at some of our greatest hits from the previous year…

At the end of 2012 we launched the Back Britain’s Charities campaign, calling on people from all walks of life to do what they can to support charities during tough economic times. We spent much of January getting high profile people and organisations to back our campaign, with the likes of Hazel Blears MP and Phillip Davies MP adding their support from Parliament, and charities such as Local Giving and the Big Give keen to add their support. We also saw the main aims of our campaign form the backbone of a debate in Parliament, with John Robertson MP calling on the Government to act to make it easier for charities to claim Gift Aid.

February saw our first Parliamentary event of the year, which coincided with the launch of CAF’s Future World Giving project. This project is examining the ways that governments across the globe can act to ensure the future of philanthropy in their country, and a roundtable in Parliament to discuss the project included contributions from the Minister for Civil Society Nick Hurd MP, as well as Lord Phillips of Sudbury and a number of international charities and NGOs.

In March, we launched the Parliamentary Inquiry on Growing Giving, which follows the ‘Mind the Gap’ report published in 2012. Aiming to look at ways that young people can be encouraged to engage with charity at an early age, the inquiry is chaired by former Home Secretary David Blunkett MP, with Andrew Percy MP and Baroness Tyler of Enfield serving as co-chairs. The launch of the inquiry coincided with polling of young people conducted on behalf of CAF being released, showing that many young people are already enthusiastic about charity, but need guidance to turn that into ongoing support.

Shortly about the launch of the Growing Giving Inquiry, we held the first oral evidence session in Parliament in April. This session focused on the way that children and young people interact with charities and included contributions from a range of organisations including student body NUS, teaching union NASUWT and young people themselves who are currently involved in shaping the direction of charities such as NCVYS and Whizz-Kidz. The session featured a number of interesting contributions, and led to the production of the inquiry’s first interim report.

May saw the publication of an interesting report that CAF had been involved with producing, in partnership with the University of Bristol and the Cabinet Office’s Behavioural Insights team. The report was based on a number of trials investigating the potential that ‘nudge theory’ holds for charities, and found that simple actions such as reminding people that they are able to leave a legacy in their Will and combining fundraising messages with a message from an organisation’s chief executive could significantly bolster giving. This has been incredibly useful in informing our policy work, and shows that most people only need a small amount of encouragement to be extremely generous. In addition, in May we submitted a response to the Government’s Payroll Giving consultation, calling for action to be taken to make the giving mechanism more effective.

In June we held another interesting event in Parliament, centred around one of the ‘asks’ of the Back Britain’s Charities campaign, which has been calling on all government bodies to ensure that funding for charities is not cut disproportionately. To coincide with this we published polling showing that the majority of the publicly want to see charity finances protected, and the event saw a number of charities who are supporting the campaign attend. We also received a written message from Eric Pickles MP, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, explaining that the Government agree that charities should not be hit disproportionately by spending cuts.

The Growing Giving Inquiry returned to Parliament in July, with the second oral evidence session focusing on the opportunities that exist for people to give whilst in their workplace. Attendees for this session included representatives from the likes of Google, BT and Morrisons. One area of particular interest was the ways that businesses can create opportunities for people to get involved with giving and volunteering whilst at work, and it was extremely positive to see research showing that many corporates promote giving because it improves staff morale and generates increased loyalty.

In August, we were extremely busy with the Government’s Gift Aid working group, with representatives from CAF attending four meetings during the month to provide opinions to HMRC and the Treasury on how Gift Aid could be reformed to better serve both donors and charities. This is also something that the Back Britain’s Charities campaign has been calling for, and updating Gift Aid could help charities claim Gift Aid that currently goes unclaimed which, as research carried out by CAF estimated, currently runs to over £700m each year.

We then moved into conference season, which this year saw us heading off to Glasgow, Brighton and Manchester from early September. Our stand was a great success, and we engaged with almost 20% more MPs than the previous year. The fringe events saw contributions from a great range of MPs including Minister Nick Hurd, his then Shadow Gareth Thomas, and new MPs such as Mike Thornton, Steve Reed and Penny Mordaunt. We were also presented with a prize for the second best conference stand at Labour Party Conference by Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls MP, who once again was the best MP to play our game. Later on this year we’ll be seeing if he can make it three in a row! September also saw CAF’s policy team submitting responses to the Gift Aid and Social Investment consultations, leading to some of the positive news we received in December.

After conference season, we then returned to Parliament for the final Growing Giving Inquiry oral evidence session at the end of October. This session focused on the ways that older people support charities, and how their generosity can be passed onto the next generation, and saw a somewhat heated discussion about living legacies with a clash between npfSynergy’s Joe Saxton and Simon Weill, who is part of a group calling for the introduction of living legacies. CAF’s Amy Clarke also appeared at the session to talk about how some families are already promoting intergenerational giving.

Earlier in the year the Government had announced plans to reform electoral campaigning, but there have been widespread concerns about the impact that this could have on charities, who will find themselves restricted by limits on spending. We’re concerned that this may stop a number of charities from campaigning, and in November we prepared a paper for Lords to explain the damaging potential of the Lobbying Bill, and the international company that it would place the UK in. The Bill returns to Parliament in January, and we’ll be keeping up the pressure to encourage the Government to protect charities from the damaging consequences of the Bill.

Finally, to end the year we launched the World Giving Index in early December, our annual ranking of the countries of the world based upon their generosity in support of good causes. This year saw the United States ranked first, with the UK rising to sixth position, up two places from the previous year. The report was covered in media across the world, and received mentions in Parliament at Cabinet Office questions. We published the report a day after the US celebrated #GivingTuesday, an initiative encouraging people to give time or money in support of a good cause in the aftermath of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and one that could have potential for the UK. In addition, December’s Autumn Statement included the creation of a new working group to revise the model Gift Aid Declaration, the creation of new materials to promote Gift Aid and the introduction of new social investment tax relief – all things that CAF has been calling for and working in support of throughout the year.

The team has also seen a great deal of change over the past year. Former Campaigns Manager Fiona McEvoy and Senior Campaigns Officer Chris Saunders have both left for pastures anew, and we’re extremely grateful to those who stepped in and filled the void for us during the busy conference season. Reinforcements are arriving, however, with Holly Mitchell joining us early in the New Year as CAF’s Senior Campaigns Officer.

So what does 2014 have in store for us? Well, January already has us attending meetings with MPs in Parliament as well as speaking at meetings of All-Party Parliament Groups. The Growing Giving Inquiry will be drawing towards a close, with recommendations currently being written up and due to be published in April. We’ll also be continuing our work on Future World Giving, with two more reports scheduled to be published this year. And of course later in the year we’ll be making our annual voyage across the country for conference season, using the last conferences before the election to urge politicians from all parties to commit to creating a climate in which charities can flourish.
Steve Clapperton

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