About our pro bono work

Our pro bono work focuses on six themes – health, education, local communities, human rights, the environment and the arts.

Within these six areas, our companies select the pro bono partners they want to work with, often reflecting the particular priorities or interests of their employees. In some cases, WPP the parent company, plays a role in coordinating multi-company pro bono projects.

Companies in all our disciplines make a contribution to our pro bono work, including advertising, research and insight, public relations and media buying. This book focuses on work by our advertising and design companies, with examples of pro bono research and public relations campaigns included in our Sustainability Report.

Our pro bono work ranges from small-scale and one-off campaigns to major partnerships over several years or even decades.

UN Sustainable Development Goals

Our agencies support the UNSDGs through their work with NGOs active in areas such as health, education, equality and the environment. In this book we have indicated where our pro bono campaigns align with the UNSDGs.

List of all the 17 goal icons

Performance in 2015

Pro bono work by WPP companies was worth £13.5 million in 2015 (2014: £17.0 million).

Together with our cash donations to charities of £5.9 million, this means our social investment was worth £19.4 million (2014: £21.8 million), equivalent to 1.3% of reported profit before tax.

In addition, WPP media agencies negotiated free media space worth £24.4 million on behalf of pro bono clients (2014: £25.1 million), making our total social contribution worth £43.8 million (2014: £46.9 million). The value of our social investment (pro bono work and charitable donations) was down by 11% on the previous year, while our overall contribution including free media space decreased by 7%.

Wider impacts

Our pro bono work is worth more than a cash donation because it helps charities to raise funds, recruit new members and achieve their objectives. We have conducted some research to begin to understand this wider impact. This shows that our pro bono work in 2015, created wider social benefits worth £72 million to society. This includes for example, the impact of charities being able to improve health and well-being in communities.

Pro bono contributions
£m

Pro bono contributions (£m) - 2011: 10.5, 2012: 11.1, 2013: 14.7, 2014: 17.0, 2015: 13.5

WPP companies undertook pro bono work worth £13.5 million in 2015. This is down 21% on 2014.

Charitable contributions
£m

Charitable contributions (£m) - 2011: 4.8, 2012: 5.1, 2013: 4.9, 2014: 4.8, 2015: 5.9

The Group and its companies made cash donations to charities worth £5.9 million in 2015, up 23% on 2014.

Pro bono work by
sector
%

Pro bono work by sector (%) - Arts 5%, Education: 13%, Environment: 5%, Health: 37%, Human rights: 4%, Local community: 36%
  • Arts 5%
  • Education 13%
  • Environment 5%
  • Health 37%
  • Human rights 4%
  • Local community 36%

Charitable donations by sector
%

Charitable donations by sector (%) - Arts: 4%, Education: 23%, Environment: 1%, Health: 23%, Human rights: 8%, Local community: 41%
  • Arts 4%
  • Education 23%
  • Environment 1%
  • Health 23%
  • Human rights 8%
  • Local community 41%

Free media space
£m

Free media space (£m) - 2011: 12.4, 2012: 14.3, 2013: 19.8, 2014: 25.1, 2015: 24.4

WPP media agencies negotiated free media space worth £24.4 million on behalf of pro bono clients, down 3% on 2014.

Total social contribution
£m

Total social contribution (£m) - 2011: 27.7, 2012: 30.5, 2013: 39.4, 2014: 46.9, 2015: 43.8
  • Free media space
  • Charitable donations
  • Pro bono

Our total social contribution in 2015 came to £43.8 million, down 7% on 2014.