More tax or more philanthropy in 2011?

Happy New Year – and what a dismal year in prospect for not-for-profits like Changing Faces if you listen to some doom-mongers, full of uncertainty, austerity and the d-word itself, deficit reduction. Sir Stephen Bubb, CEO of ACEVO, weighed in early with a broadside arguing that Government should raise billions of pounds from a tax on bank bonuses which would then go into the putative Big Society Bank to be set up by the Coalition to encourage social enterprise –

Reporting this, The Guardian quotes the charity thinktank New Philanthropy Capital as suggesting that more than a quarter of charities which receive state cash expect to make staff redundant and estimated that the voluntary sector’s income from state sources could shrink by between £3bn and £5bn as a result of the cuts.

Let’s not underestimate this – the speed of the austerity bite and the ghastly uncertainty being experienced by many in the Third Sector make the whole project called ‘big society’ so much more difficult because the very local projects which it is designed to spawn are being shaken to the core – a tsunami hits very quickly and leaves devastation behind.

But is more Government funding the answer? For most charities, though perhaps not for some of the social enterprises that will be challenged by the fall-away in local contracts, it is the future of that wonderful thing ‘philanthropy’ that is at stake in 2011. Will those many millions of individuals who give to charity each year or the thousands of charitable trusts whose careful management of assets secures their income, or the many corporate entities that recognise their corporate citizenship role cut back on their generosity?

Whilst I understand Bubb’s desire to tax what might be perceived as ill-gotten or lucky gains (but are incentives to hard work in others’ eyes), I think much more effort should be concentrated on encouraging giving in all its forms. We need LOTS more public examples of how people have given and the impact it has made – not just at Marathon or Children in Need moments. And how about far better tax incentives to give for those who do win/earn those massive bonuses?

I am not persuaded by the proposed ‘give cash to charity’ message at cash machines but apparently it has worked in other European countries. The best thing I’ve seen recently – and I encourage you to do this – is the Give as You Live project. Here’s the pitch:

 Give as You Live works whenever you shop online – as many of us do now for all sorts of things including books (me!), airfares, insurance etc. Apparently, the average spend online is £3,000 pa! It is potentially worth an additional £75 per supporter to Changing Faces because it taps into what are called ‘the affiliate marketing budgets’ of major retailers and makes small %ages of the price paid by consumers available to charities.

As the spiel puts it: “you pay the same price for the same products from your favourite websites, without compromise in your online shopping habits, but in the process, raise money for Changing Faces – or any other cause you want to choose, of course. It’s shopping, but better.”

Here’s how to do it:

Step 1: Using Internet Explorer, download and install our free shopping App and select Changing Faces (or another charity) as your chosen cause. Get the App from and more information too

Step 2: Shop online from over 1,000 participating stores

Step 3: Every purchase you make will raise extra funds for Changing Faces or your chosen cause

Over to you, please!