· 2 min read · Features

While government tightens its belt, the needs do not go away – they move to NGOs that pick up the pieces


It does not take long to see the many needs in society and our local communities. Scratch a little deeper – look a little harder – and we see that, without the crucial support of many individuals, businesses and charities, our communities would really be struggling.

While the Government tightens its financial belt, the needs do not go away - they move to other non-governmental organisations that pick up the pieces. Many of these organisations deliver very good value for money and engage with volunteers to make resources go further, but without regular giving, a disproportionate amount of time is given to non-core work, as fundraising becomes centre stage.

As business leaders, we consider our green footprint and review corporate plans and policies, but if we facilitate a culture of giving, embracing responsibility to the less fortunate, we enable people to see how we can take on the principles of 'the big society'.

Many are keen to endorse the big society principle, but find it hard to work out the practical side of the concept. Encouraging a generous giving culture is one clear way of embracing big society.

As leaders, finding and facilitating ways to encourage giving and a culture of responsibility is a must. There is an aptitude to be generous, with a need to make it quick and simple - both to understand and use.

It is easier to encourage staff and customers to give money away to good causes than ask your bank to support growth and expansion, even when backed with a well-presented and workable business plan.

Our own business has a culture of giving - we embrace the biblical principle of tithing. Our income is generated from families and children, so a tenth of our profits go to the family and children's projects we support. Our challenge was to expand the 'giving' habit.

We were approached a year ago by the Geared for Giving campaign, which said it would work with us to enable us to establish workplace giving. This is an easy-to-administer, tax-efficient way for our staff to support charities to make a difference. This has been an amazing success due to, first, our staff embracing the concept and, second, the enthusiasm of Geared for Giving in visiting our staff throughout our branch network. More than 25% of our staff now give monthly amounts, ranging up from £5, to a wide variety of charities. I am encouraged by the way employees embrace this concept; their engagement has been greater than anything we have ever launched - including free pension contributions…

We have chosen to match our staff's giving by adding 50% to their donation, which has an impact - but it still needs a person to be willing to give in this way.

In the past few months, we have pioneered the Pennies Foundation's electronic counter collecting box. It is so easy - our customers are offered the opportunity to round up credit card purchases to the nearest pound - an average uplift of 29p.

We are raising £100,000 a year for Great Ormond St and other children's hospitals by this method. What a result and, again, working with an organisation focused on delivering an easy-to-install micro-donation solution to businesses with PDQ machines.

Customers and staff have been so generous. They see these initiatives as a service and a benefit, enabling their contribution to make a huge difference to their recipients.

Gary Grant (pictured) is managing director of toy retailer, The Entertainer