How payroll giving gave Make-A-Wish a boost

the fundraiser image

How payroll giving gave Make-A-Wish a boost

Payroll giving is high on the agenda following the independent Philanthropy Review and the Giving White Paper. Jonathan Sandall explains how Make-A-Wish made payroll giving count


Typically, an organisation can expect to be a charity of the year for one to three years. It offers an unrivalled opportunity to really sell the charity’s cause and recruit life-long supporters, but one of the biggest fundraising challenges is how to create a legacy of support that will last beyond the life of the partnership.

Payroll giving should be one of the more effective ways of turning corporate engagement into long-term individual support. Unfortunately, charities and companies have often struggled, and in some cases failed, to find a way of harnessing the tremendous energy staff fundraising can generate and translate it into payroll giving.



When we teamed up with insurance providers NFU Mutual, it was encouraging to see that the charity partnership programme included a payroll giving initiative.

The three-year partnership came about in 2010, NFU Mutual’s centenary year. The company wanted to unite its fundraising efforts behind a single cause and staff were invited to vote for the charity they wanted to support. More than 60 per cent chose Make-A-Wish Foundation UK and the challenge was to raise enough money to grant 100 wishes by the end of 2012.

In December 2010 the Make Your Final Hour Count (MYFHC) campaign was launched and employees were incentivised to donate the last hour of their salary that year for the chance to win one of three iPods. The aim was to achieve a 6 per cent sign-up rate which would raise approximately £3,150 – the final sign-up rate was actually double that, with 12.6 per cent of employees donating their final hour’s salary. The initiative raised a fantastic £7,792, equivalent to two wishes – a great achievement considering the low cost of the scheme.

Of course, there were challenges. The biggest test was probably the economic climate and the increased pressure on individual’s disposable income. With many activities having taken place already throughout the year, we were concerned about giving fatigue among the staff. But thoughtful planning helped to overcome this and we felt that a carefully communicated payroll campaign would add something different and be a great way to round off the year.


Into action

MYFHC was promoted to employees via emails, the intranet, the employee magazine and display screens in key areas, such as the coffee shop. What made this initiative work so well was the ease of it. A simple pay calculator was included in e-communications so that employees could work out their individual hourly pay. So they could quickly find out how much they would be donating – decide to do it – and payroll did the rest.

We knew that previous payroll giving schemes never achieved their anticipated success. MYFHC did, largely because it captured the spirit of the centenary year partnership and delivered a strong message of how giving up just one hour of work time could be of real value to the partnership with Make-A-Wish.


Team work

Internally, the CSR and HR teams at NFU Mutual worked together. This collaboration enabled promotion of the campaign across all internal communication channels. The iPods, which were supplied by NFU Mutual, injected a bit of fun and acted as a great incentive for staff. Overall, the combination of all of these factors, rather than just one, made this campaign successful.

The partnership relies on open and honest communication and we respect that each side has its own challenges to overcome. Our overall shared objective is for the partnership to raise £400,000 over three years so that Make-A-Wish can grant an additional 100 wishes. Every successful event, activity and campaign takes us nearer that goal and helps us learn valuable lessons for the future.

From a personal perspective, the fact that the NFU Mutual team is prepared to explore new ideas, or take an existing idea and inject imagination and flair, is something that I really enjoy about the partnership. I suspect this is one of the benefits of running a partnership over three-years, rather than one. You learn to trust and respect your counterparts the longer you work with them and become more prepared to try something new. The MYFHC campaign was a little of all of these things. It was an idea that sprang out of a joint discussion, was developed and honed and ‘ultimately, was delivered with great results.

Consequently, we decided to enter the best use of payroll giving category, at the Institute of Fundraising Awards 2011, and were delighted when it won. As the judges put it, “the entry was notable for taking an existing idea and giving it a new twist in difficult times for everyone. Using an online tool, innovative and clever use of links made it more personal. It achieved great results and gave the scheme a good base to build on for the future.”

MYFNC is just a small, but nonetheless important, part of our ongoing partnership with NFU Mutual. The staff there easily beat their first year target by raising £200,000 and now, halfway through the second year, we feel confident that the original objective of 100 wishes will be comfortably achieved and almost certainly exceeded.


Jonathan Sandall is head of corporate and trust fundraising at Make-A-Wish Foundation UK

This article first appeared in The Fundraiser magazine, Issue 8, August 2011

Get the latest fundraising advice and insight

the fundraiser cover Sign me up