What is the issue?
Our pro bono work is a source of inspiration to our people, providing them with opportunities to develop professionally and personally, and helps our pro bono clients to engage with their audiences through cost-effective, high-impact marketing. WPP employees also support their local communities through volunteering.
Our social investment has a wider impact on society by helping charities to carry out their work in areas such as improving human health and community cohesion, and protecting human rights and the environment. We have conducted research to understand the value of this impact to society. This shows that our pro bono work and charitable donations generated social benefits worth around £116 million, for example, by helping to improve health and well-being in communities. You can read more about how we calculate our impact.
How we manage
Our companies determine their own local social investment priorities. WPP the parent company encourages their work in this area and sometimes plays a role in coordinating pro bono assignments involving several WPP companies.
Performance in 2014
Our social investment was worth £21.8 million (2013: £19.6 million). This is equivalent to 1.5% of reported profit before tax. It includes cash donations to charities of £4.8 million and £17.0 million worth of pro bono work based on fees the organisations would have paid for our work. In addition, WPP media agencies negotiated free media space worth £25.1 million on behalf of pro bono clients (2013: £19.8 million), making the total social contribution £46.9 million (2013: £39.4 million).
The value of our social investment (pro bono work and charitable donations) increased by 11% on the previous year, while our overall contribution including free media space increased by 19%.
Head of Sustainability, WPP
“Our pro bono work is part of who we are at WPP, with many of our pro bono partnerships stretching back years or even decades. Our creative campaigns help pro bono clients make an impact in key areas such as education, health, the environment and human rights, and also provide our people with opportunities to take on exciting projects, to develop their capabilities and to make a difference in the world”
Our social contribution
We calculate our total social contribution as the value of our pro bono work, our charitable donations and the value of media space negotiated by WPP companies on behalf of pro bono clients. This came to £46.9 million in 2014, up 19% on 2013.
We publish a collection of recent pro bono campaigns by our advertising agencies and our branding, direct marketing and digital companies. This is available at wpp.com/sustainability. Here we share a few examples of pro bono work by our PR companies and media agencies in 2014.
Supporting employee volunteering
Many of our people give their time as volunteers to charities and not-for-profit organisations in their local communities. Our companies support these efforts and many run company volunteering programs that benefit good causes while also supporting team working and employee engagement.
Many of our executives share their marketing expertise as advisors and trustees. A small selection is included opposite.
Bigger than Lightspeed GMI
Lightspeed GMI, the WPP research company, works in communities to run its research panels. Its businesses in the US and Canada have a strong tradition of community engagement and introduced Bigger than Lightspeed to give a focus to employee volunteering and community projects.
Each year, employees can take advantage of paid time off to volunteer for an organisation of their choice. Bigger than Lightspeed champions in each office also coordinate company activities that encourage employee participation and fundraising. Events were held across Lightspeed GMI offices during 2014, including bake sales, canned food drives, costume contests and sports days. Funds raised have benefited Habitat for Humanity, the Susan G Komen breast cancer charity and the Alzheimer’s Association among others.
Lightspeed GMI is part of the Kantar group and also supports its UNICEF Brighter Futures Campaign, which is raising $1 million to help underprivileged children in Bangladesh, Bolivia and Malawi.
WPP the parent company
Our operating companies contribute most of our social investment. WPP, the parent company also supports charities and non-profit organisations, with a focus on those working in the areas of education, the arts and with young people. We provide in-kind support including advice on communications strategy and implementation from some of our most experienced senior leaders as well as financial donations.
During 2014, we also made a donation of £30,000 to Save the Children’s Emergency Fund, which helps people caught up in natural disasters such as earthquakes and flooding. Donations to the Fund enable Save the Children to prepare in advance so it can respond within hours when a disaster strikes. In total, the Emergency Fund helped Save the Children respond to 55 humanitarian crises in 47 countries in 2014.
Recent organisations WPP has supported include:
- Academy of St Martins In the Fields
- Beanstalk, the volunteer reading charity
- A Blueprint for Better Business
- The British Museum
- Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design
- Coram (UK children’s charity)
- The City UK
- Dementia Friends
- Education and Employers Task Force UK
- FIA Road Safety Campaign
- Gates Cambridge Scholarships
- Grand Prix Mechanics Charity Trust
- Henry Jackson Initiative
- IESE Business School
- Invictus Games
- Movement to Work
- NABS (which offers financial, practical and emotional support to those in the advertising industry)
- National Centre for Universities and Business
- National Citizen Service
- National Equality Standard
- The National History Museum
- The National Portrait Gallery
- Operation Hope
- The Outward Bound Trust
- Place2Be (school-based counselling service, dedicated to improving the emotional well-being of children)
- The Prince’s Foundation
- The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust
- Royal College of Music
- The Royal Foundation
- Science Museum
- St Gabriel College
- United for Wildlife
- Wellbeing of Women
- Word Economic Forum Sustainability Board.
Volunteering in our companies 2014
Kantar World Panel Peru: Helping improve the Caritas Felices Home for abused girls.
Lightspeed Seattle: Building homes for families in need with Habitat for Humanity.
Kantar India: Improving living conditions in homes for orphans and street children supported by the Cherish Foundation.
ghg New York: Collecting coats to help New York Cares provide warm clothing to people in need.
Y&R South Africa: Cycling Children with Cerebral Palsy organised by the Paige Project.
Y&R Sydney: Spending a day decorating and improving The House With No Steps, which supports people with disabilities.