A new age of British philanthropy dawns

After the selfish 80s and the caring 90s, the chancellor has told us he wants to encourage a ‘new civic patriotism’. He wants to make the start of the millennium a ‘decade of giving’ and has outlined a whole raft of radical tax reforms to facilitate this fresh, new, modern philanthropic spirit of the 21st century.

In the US there is huge evidence that the hi-tech entrepreneurs of Silicon Valley are turning their attentions to charity and enjoying the novel experience of giving cash away as well as accruing it. Giving some of it away may fulfil that need to feel good about yourself.

It may also enhance your public image and be a form of philanthropic marketing – a strategy adopted by Microsoft. Commentators noted that the timing of Bill Gates donations coincided with the Microsoft anti-trust trial.

In the UK we are far more anonymous with our donations. Fortunes are smaller and there aren’t so many of them, but the internet frenzy and radical tax reforms could mean a new British philanthropist is on its way.

Payroll giving under Gordon Brown’s regime makes it inexpensive to give a substantial gift to those less fortunate. We all have the opportunity as individuals to make a difference, and we should all encourage our companies to do the same. The age of the British internet millionaire turned new philanthropist could be about to dawn.

  • Alistair O’Reilly is managing director of Access Accounting.

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