A League of Bankers?

2 February 2011 | By Cause4 staff

Last week The Times announced plans by the UK government ‘to embarrass banks and their staff into donating more to charities by producing a league table of bankers’ donations.’

The newspaper claimed that sources within the government believe that in compiling a league table of charitable donations from staff bonuses, this would encourage bankers to donate more.

This coincides with a time when bonuses are under close scrutiny and follows news that Goldman Sachs, for instance, has reduced its philanthropic donations by one third, even though members of staff - to all accounts - are due to amass bonuses of £10bn.

At Cause4 we can’t help but wonder what kind of fools have dreamt up this idea. League Tables, for heaven’s sake? Publicly shaming organisations and individuals that lag behind? What does Government think this will achieve? Hasn’t anyone learnt anything as a consequence of the invidious School League Table culture?

And who, might we ask, is advising Government on their strategy?

Forget what we might think about the levels of remuneration that bankers receive relative to their perceived contribution to our society and its values. Cast aside whatever moral judgments we might wish to make about reward over endeavour.

The plain truth is that philanthropy is a choice freely made, a personal decision to make a contribution above and beyond what the Inland Revenue demands. It’s also an entirely private matter. The moment philanthropy results from Government coercion, it ceases to be philanthropy.

At Cause4 we will never be successful bankers, but if we were I am 100% certain that we would tell Government, or anyone else that tried to blackmail us into charitable giving, to boil its head – or words to that effect. Of course, we must encourage philanthropy and persuade those with means to make things happen to become involved, but honestly.....

We propose a different League Table for idiocy – and whoever is responsible for this hare-brained lunacy goes straight to the top.

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