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Charity begins at the ATM: UK seeks more donations

Charity begins at the ATM: UK seeks more donations

Please take your cash. Now how about giving some money to charity?
Britain's government said Wednesday it is considering plans to request a donation to good causes each time a customer uses an ATM.
Ministers said they are consulting with banks on the idea to allow customers to give money to charities each time they use a cash machine, which Britain says was pioneered in Colombia.
The government will also discuss a plan to allow shoppers who pay for goods or services using debit cards to round up the cost of purchases and donate the difference.
Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude said the proposals are among a host of possible policies aimed at increasing donations to British charities _ including opening up landmark government buildings for public events, or adding a voluntary levy to orders at takeaway restaurants.
A study by the Charities Aid Foundation published earlier this month found that about 56 percent of British adults regularly give to charity, donating an estimated 10.6 billion pounds ($16.3 billion) each year.
But while the British public are among the most generous in Europe, the country lags far behind the United States, where people donate the equivalent of 1.7 percent of gross domestic product. In the U.K., the public gives the equivalent of 0.7 percent of the country's GDP.
Ministers said they hope to encourage more people to give money regularly, and greater numbers to offer their time to help charities and organizations carrying out work in local communities.
"People giving time, money, assets, skills and knowledge all drive social action and help make life better for all," said Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude.
A consultation document calls on the public to consider volunteering at hospitals, schools, libraries or prisons. It claims about 3.3 million people are willing to help out, but aren't sure how to get involved.
Critics say the government is seeking to use public goodwill to limit the impact of harsh spending cuts, looking to charities to offer services that departments can no longer afford to provide.
Treasury chief George Osborne has announced 81 billion pounds ($128 billion) in spending cuts through 2015. The government will cut as many as 330,000 public sector jobs and trim welfare payments to families and the disabled, likely increasing the burden on Britain's voluntary sector.
"This is not about providing public services on the cheap," the government insisted in the consultation paper. "There are significant benefits for those who give their time _ in terms of building skills, making new friends and connections, and even for their health."
Maude said his department would consult with charities and the public on the ideas until March, ahead of the publication of proposed new legislation on the charity sector.
Despite an 18-month recession in Britain that only ended a year ago, donations have held upaccording to charities.
"In spite of the recession and forecasts of doom and gloom, it would appear that levels of giving have not been hit as hard as first expected," said Louise Richards, director of policy and campaigns at the Institute of Fundraising.
John Low, chief executive of the Charities Aid Foundation, said the government needed to do more to simplify the process of donating and help the public to use tax incentives aimed at maximizing the amount charities receive.
"There are still lessons our government can learn from the likes of the U.S., where tax relief is no more generous than ours but much simpler to understand," he said.
Maude said ministers aimed to provide better information to the public, and to break a taboo about openly discussing charity work. "Talking about what we do for good causes is often seen as vulgar," he said.
Under the plans, the government will offer a 50 million pound ($77 million) fund to match donations to local neighborhood projects and distribute 10 million pounds ($15.4 million) in matched funding for volunteering programs.


Updated : 2021-02-27 09:22 GMT+08:00