Matthew Patten, Chief Executive, Mayor’s Fund for London writes about place based giving and what that means in London now

When most people talk about Place-Based ‘Giving’, what they really mean is Place-Based ‘Fundraising’; how to generate new cash, particularly corporate cash, for local community causes.

It’s an old idea that’s found new momentum.  In the past, hard-nosed businesses like the Cadburys and Levers didn’t just put something back, they positively built their local communities.  Britain would be a poorer place without the churches, village halls, libraries, schools, water pumps, parks, memorials and many other facilities funded by local worthies and businesses.  Let alone their support of social campaigns to drive out disease, reduce alcoholism, alleviate poverty and improve education, living and working conditions.  

The Mayor’s Fund for London is defined by place; the clue is in the name.  So what kind of place is London?

It’s a global city, Europe’s largest metropolitan economy with a GDP of $731 billion and accounting for just over 30% of the United Kingdom’s $2.27 trillion GDP in 2012. 

It’s a jumble of diverse boroughs, communities and streets, with profound differences in location and amenity depending on your postcode. 

It’s all about individual Londoners.  People are desperate to be here; some 14 million people (1-in-4 UK residents) live in Greater London making it Europe’s most populous metro area. 

But its riches are unevenly spread. The Trust for London tells us that incomes are more unequal than in any other region with 16% of the population in the poorest tenth nationally and 17% in the richest tenth. There’s a massive gap between the haves and have-nots.

No wonder that Sarah Sands, Editor of the London Evening Standard, said the political argument swirling around the recent election campaign ‘both celebrates the dynamic economy and fears it… All the action is here.’

Some of our charitable programmes operate across London, others in one or two boroughs only.  To be successful, all of them have to reflect local context and need. 

The same is true for funders more generally.  Some are interested in all of London, others in particular boroughs or wards.   It’s no coincidence that Tower Hamlets, adjoining the City business district, is awash with corporate benefactors, while further out east in Barking & Dagenham, it’s a much thinner broth. 

In such a diverse and changing place, the Mayor’s Fund for London has broadened and grown its supporter base, with a 44% increase in investment in our charitable activities and 28% increase in funds raised in the past year alone.  There’s no magic formula for this, just three everyday ingredients we aspire to:

  1. Being clear about what we are for 
  2. Developing high-performance charitable programmes
  3. Respecting the individual requirements of our supporters

We’ve also tried to innovate and experiment with our ‘place’, most notably with Penny for London.  This world-first fundraising scheme enables Londoners to make micro-donations of as little as a penny whenever they pay using contactless with a scheme partner, for example, travelling on a tube or bus, buying a coffee at Caffe Nero or lunch at Leon.  The funds raised will be shared by a wide range of not-for-profit organisations working to improve the prospects of disadvantaged young Londoners.  With 1-in-10 transactions under £20 in London now paid for contactlessly, it’s a massive and fast-growing opportunity.

Our vision for Penny for London is for it to be adopted by all London retailers and become part of what defines being a Londoner, namely a willingness to make a tiny but important contribution to their communities and city as they go about their everyday business.  And if works in London, why not Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow, New York and Sydney?

And as with all our activities, Penny for London has a strong supporter base, including the likes of Barclays, Transport for London, Visa, Evening Standard, Magic 104.5, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley.  Each has its own requirements, but we all share an aspiration for London as a world-class city leading the way for good. 

That’s the kind of place we all want to work for.