John Lewis marks decade of donating staff time to charities with gift of extra 5000 hours
GJT trustee Helen Keppel-Compton told Philanthropy UK, “Rather than just giving money, we believe we can increase the value of our input to charities by offering the time of our highly skilled staff.”
The GJT has donated 181,000 hours of staff time to charities over the past decade. The trust allows John Lewis and Waitrose partners (as staff are called) to apply for a secondment of up to six months full time to work with a charity.
“We see it as a virtuous circle,” continues Keppel-Compton, who has been a trustee since January and a partner for 20 years. “Charities that we work with get far more from us than just cash, they get our expertise and skills. But we also benefit since the time that our partners spend on secondment broadens their horizons and gives them new skills.
“We save charities the time and trouble of recruiting good volunteers by providing that service for them. Our placements can be up to six months, so charities see real benefits from our input,” adds Keppel-Compton.
The Trust awards around 50 secondments each year on a full or part-time basis for a maximum of six months and takes on the partners’ full pay to cover the placement. So far, around 440 Partners have taken part and Keppel-Compton says they hope to break through the 500 mark by the end of the year.
Some organisations have raised issues about the merits and value of corporate volunteer schemes as reported in Philanthropy UK earlier this year.
For example Elena Joseph, head of new projects and charity liaison at payroll giving organisation, Workplace Giving, comments, “Charities are reluctant to appear ungrateful, but the reality is that for many of them, having to find work for company volunteers to do is time-consuming and sometimes counter-productive.”
However, GJT says it matches partners’ skills with the specific needs of the charity that is being supported.
The JLP also makes cash donations to local charities through branches of John Lewis and Waitrose. In 2008-09 branches gave just over £4m, a 42% increase on the previous year.