Last year, around Valentines Day, we spoke to businesses owners who had found love in the workplace. This year, we're looking at a different kind of love. A love for our fellow humans and the planet. And considering whether business owners could be doing more to demonstrate their love – through charitable giving and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
Just 2% of all UK charity income currently comes in cash from the business sector. Yet, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) make up over 99% of all businesses in the UK. For most of those businesses, charitable giving sits low down on the priority list and is very rarely built into business planning.
That's not because businesses don't want to give something back, it's just everyday pressures take over.
Aside from supporting worthy causes, there are many great business incentives to give generously:
For individuals, Gift Aid is a tax relief allowing UK charities to claim 25% in tax on every eligible donation. When a person gives they’ll be asked to confirm if they are a UK taxpayer. Higher-rate taxpayers can claim income tax relief, above and beyond the amount claimed directly by the charity. Gift Aid can only be claimed by individuals who have paid as much in income, or capital gains, tax during the tax year concerned as the amount of tax which is recoverable.
Employers can help employees gift via payroll, giving to their chosen charities should they wish. One million people give money every month via over 5,000 employers currently, though the numbers have remained broadly the same for several years.
Businesses can make donations from their sales or profits. Such donations are deductible from the business’ total profits in the year during which the donations are made. The amount of the tax allowable deduction is limited to an amount that reduces the company’s total taxable profits to nil: the payment of a charitable donation cannot create or augment a company’s loss for tax purposes.
There are therefore challenges with donations in this way. "Donations by businesses are offset against their profits, meaning that they can pay less corporation tax," says Informi Product Manager Steven Drew. "If, however, you aren’t profitable, you cannot access this tax relief. We’d like to see cash giving incentivised, either through increasing the rate of tax relief on donations made so that the tax refund outweighs that of general business expenses, or through using a tax credit approach, so that businesses who are not in profit are also motivated to give."
Aside from donating business profits, there’s plenty of other existing routes for businesses to engage with charities – such as through volunteering, through pro bono work, giving product in kind, or via matching donations for one-off occasions such as Comic Relief or having a designated charity of the year.
Publicly pledging to make charitable donations linked to sales of goods and services can be great for business, as discussed above. However, in order to do so, you have a legal obligation to set up a Commercial Participation Agreement (CPA) with every charity you intend to support. These exist to help protect charities’ brands from being inappropriately leveraged by businesses for their own financial gain without the charity’s consent.
CPAs have been seen as a hassle from an administrative and legal perspective. It often, therefore, results in charities setting minimum thresholds for business pledges – putting off many potential partnerships between charities and smaller businesses.
Danny Witter is Co-founder of Work For Good, an organisation which helps businesses design and execute strong giving strategies. This has included creating an online platform which facilitates charitable payments and handles the legal, tax and admin issues associated with a CPA – with no minimum donation amount. Members include a restaurant that has a ‘giving table’ from which the profit of every meal goes to good causes; a consultancy that gives 3% of every invoice to a charity of the client’s choice, and a recruitment firm which incentivises referrals via a donation pledge.
Danny explains why charitable giving can be a key part of business growth – and how Work For Good can help.
"Embedding cash giving pledges into your day to day can be good for businesses and charities alike. It is a visible and transparent way to engage your customers and staff, and make giving part of your brand. With 89% of clients willing to switch brands to support a specific cause it pays to be seen to be doing good.
"It can also be a more efficient means of giving back. Unlike training for a marathon or setting up fundraising events – both time-consuming and reliant on external input – pledging a cash donation is quick and easy.
"However, a CPA can be a real barrier to charitable giving. Charities regularly turn away offers of business support if it is below surprisingly high thresholds – typically £25,000 a year or more – as they aren’t viable due to the negotiations, legal and admin work involved. Even with the biggest of hearts, few smaller businesses can reach that.
"Work for Good’s central philosophy has been not only to make it easier for businesses to incorporate charitable giving into their business plans, but also to help businesses tell their giving story to differentiate themselves and to inspire others."
For more information, you can book a free consultation on how Work for Good can help your business. Informi readers get 50% of Work for Good membership using discount code: INFORMIFEB2019
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