Generous nation that is committed to giving

HORSHAM’S potential as a magnet for the arts was compellingly described by John Steele of The Horsham Society in his piece in the County Times on July 7. His bold vision of a Horsham arts festival by 2013 reminded me of an equally groundbreaking announcement by the Culture Secretary.

Inspired by the Met in New York and the £2bn fund at its disposal skilfully garnered over 100 years, Jeremy Hunt has launched the concept of an ‘endowments century’ intended as a clarion call to philanthropists of every means.

Not that people need encouragement when it comes to giving. Britain is a generous country and judging from the response to my department’s public consultation in the run-up to the Giving White Paper, many would give and do even more – with a degree of guidance and support.

But not with a top-down approach. Eager to learn lessons from the past when red tape at times obstructed charitable giving, we are keen only to catalyse and facilitate individual and corporate giving by creating incentives and highlighting and sharing what works.

The aim is to develop a culture of ‘asking’ as well as ‘giving’. For this to happen, the Government will be investing £30m in helping charities access more effective local support from donors and professionals willing to provide pro bono or low-cost support in areas such as fundraising techniques, networking and information-sharing.

Our efforts will not stop there. Anyone who is passionate about the arts will give a cheer to the Government’s £80m match funding scheme which will provide support not just for larger bodies which want to develop endowments, but also to smaller organisations.

Everyone can make a difference. So there’s a Go-Givers scheme to get children involved in fun forms of giving while the DWP’s ‘active ageing’ programmes emphasise the mutual benefits of volunteering in later life. Som £40m of funding has been committed to support volunteering, giving and infrastructure via the Social Action Fund, Challenge Prizes and Local Infrastructure Fund.

We hope to generate more initiatives at the Giving Summit for this autumn.

Quite often it’s just a question of helping people see the potential that’s already there.

FRANCIS MAUDE

MP for Horsham