Tue. May 17th, 2022

Isle of Wight Observer News

The Island's Free Newspaper

VECTIS VIEW: Geoff Underwood – Founder of WightAID

3 min read

Compassion. Kindness. Impact. People are inherently compassionate and kind.

We’ve seen thousands of people doing their bit for their community, or for a cause that they hold dear, by taking part in the London Marathon and other gruelling events around the country.

The Isle of Wight is home to hundreds of charities, and thousands of businesses, and these businesses are run by people who are passionate about their local community. They want to make a difference, and they care about others around them.

As my business was growing, we found ourselves being inundated with requests for help from many charities and good causes. We set up a charities committee to choose who we should be helping, but soon this became too much for us, and I decided that we should look for an organisation that could do all this for us. I spoke to the wonderful Hampshire and Isle of Wight Community Foundation (HIWCF) who accept donations and then invest them for you, using the proceeds to distribute out to local charities. This is a great model if you want to leave a legacy, but it wasn’t really for me at the time. I wanted somewhere that could take our donation and get it straight out into the community.

With nothing obviously fitting the bill, I decided to form The WightAID Foundation. I approached a group of friends and business colleagues and they kindly agreed to become trustees, and we set to work to define what WightAID should be about.

Local giving to local charities is a big thing for us. We want everything we do to have an impact on the Isle of Wight, so we target charities that are based here, or have a big impact here. We love to wave a flag for those charities that are too small to have a fund-raising team. The charities that are run by volunteers, who give their time week in, week out, because they are passionate about their cause. We want to share in that passion.

Easy giving is important. When I formed WightAID I was looking for somewhere I could write just one cheque. As a donor, that’s what you can do now. Make your donation to WightAID, and we’ll do the rest. We will distribute your money to local charities, and we’ll let you know where it’s gone.

Within reason, we try to give away as much as possible each year so that we can have the biggest impact possible. To date WightAID has made 231 grants, and distributed £400,000 to 157 charities here on the Island.

I firmly believe that businesses should give more to the local community. There are many benefits to giving. Apart from the obvious good that it does, it connects you to your community. You feel good, and so do your employees, knowing that you are making a difference. There are of course tax benefits too, so your donation can be even bigger than you thought!

How much should you give? Well, anything above 1% of your pre-tax profits is good. Anything less than 0.25% of pre-tax profits and it becomes clear that however much you talk about it, giving to charity clearly isn’t very important to you as a business. That’s food for thought the next time you are doing your end of year accounts.

If you are a donor then, on behalf of all of the great causes we have supported, I thank you for your generosity. If you are yet to become a donor, then take away these three words: Compassion, Kindness and Impact, and please visit wightaid.org