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19th September 2023

James Reed on The Big Give

James Reed


Over the last 15 years, we have built a great machine for fundraising. It is called Big Give, and you might have never heard of it. If so, I want to introduce you to our work and ask for your help.

What we have pioneered is the concept of match funding – asking funders to match donations to charities made by members of the public. So £50 from an individual becomes £100 for a good cause, after being doubled by a Big Give match funding ‘champion’ – typically philanthropists, foundations or companies.

What the champions who support Big Give say is that they are so pleased to see their donations multiplied, often by many times. The average donation to Big Give last year was multiplied by 5.6, making their money go far further than it would otherwise have done.

We are now the UK’s biggest match funding platform, working every day to multiply people’s generosity.

Public donations are crucial. But we need the fuel provided by more champions to take our work to the next level.

My feeling is that a lot of wealthy individuals want to help and to do something charitable, but they are not quite sure where to put their wherewithal and their energy.

It’s actually not that easy to give away a lot of money and do it effectively. It may be that there is a cause you want to champion – the environment, homelessness, the arts, women and girls, developing communities – but you aren’t sure who to work with to have the best impact.

Working with us means you make much, much more impact. We say to the public who donate to charities through our platform that one donation has twice the impact. But for the champions, it’s  a lot more than that.

In the UK the top one per cent are not as generous as they are in the US. What I would say to those people is that you get an enormous satisfaction from making a contribution like this. Once you have got the material things you need, the return on acquiring more and more material things diminishes. When you contribute philanthropically, the satisfaction grows stronger each time you do it.

The people who take part tell us that it is really enriching. They get huge satisfaction from supporting what is often a number of different organisations. If you want to support the homeless, say, you can target your help at more than one charity working in the sector. You also know that we have done the work for you in terms of selecting well-run, effective organisations to support.

Our annual Christmas Challenge raises money for over 1,000 different charities, and even our themed campaigns like the Green Match Fund, which targets environmental causes, are very varied.

Wealthy people should think about how much they want to give away every year, and then they can plan effectively for doing so. In some religions, it’s expected that you will give away a certain percentage of your income. I’m not saying everyone should set it in stone, but there is something to be said for planning ahead.

I try to do that, and it helps that I have been working with charities since I was a young man. I have seen how well targeted work can make a huge difference to people’s lives.

What we have created in Big Give is a way of multiplying and magnifying that. We give the organisations that take part in our campaigns a lot more financial firepower.

I find it very satisfying when I hear back from our charity partners that they have hit a target and demonstrate amazing programmes of work as a result, across all different aspects of society that are really inspiring. That motivates me.

There are a lot of cracks in our society and life that government does not fill. Voluntary and individual action is a necessary part of the social landscape.

The small battalions, as they have been called, make a huge positive difference. A lot of them are led by very impressive individuals who are really remarkable leaders.

We want to work with them to reach a new target of raising £1 billion by 2030. It’s a big number and it’s a long way off where we have got to. But I’ve always found in business that it’s good to know what you are trying to do and have a target. It keeps you focused on the goal, which is raising money to help charities finance the work they do.

Currently, we are not far off having raised a quarter of a billion pounds – so £1 billion is a big stretch. But it’s doable.

It’s good that people know we are ambitious. After all, the need out there is limitless.


For more information visit

Chairman of the board of trustees at Big Give and chairman of The Reed Group

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