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Promoting social action: encouraging and enabling people to play a more active part in society


It’s not as easy as it could be for people to give their time and skills to society and the local community. Because it’s not easy to do, people aren’t becoming as actively involved in their community as they could be - and want to be.

We’ve identified ways to help create and encourage social action - making it easier for people to work together to benefit their community and the lives of those within it.


To make it easier for people to get involved and help their local community, we will:

  • increase volunteering and social action in the community through Community First, by creating a Decade of Social Action, and by encouraging civil servants to spend at least 1 day out of the year volunteering - committing 30,000 days each year for volunteering in the civil service
  • increase how much and how often people donate to charity by making it easier to donate through payroll giving, Innovation in Giving Funds, and Giving Match campaigns
  • encourage community action through recognition and awards (eg through the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service), and by funding the training of 5,000 people as community organisers by 2015, who will play a major role in improving their local community

We’re also helping young people to develop skills and make a difference in their community through the National Citizen Service, a full-time programme for 16 and 17-year-olds in England that encourages personal and social development.


Promoting social action (giving, both of time and money) is part of the wider vision for Big Society, which is part of the Coalition agreement. This has been outlined in the:

Giving green paper

The Giving green paper sets out government’s ideas for increasing the levels of giving and how to make social action the social norm. Its purpose was to start talks that would lead to the Giving white paper.

Giving white paper

The Giving white paper explains how we intend to make giving, both time and money, as easy and appealing as possible, and give better support to those that provide and manage opportunities to give, such as charities.

Giving white paper – one year on

The Giving white paper – one year on reports on the progress made since the publication of the Giving white paper, and sets out what we plan to achieve in the future.

Who we’re working with

We work with a range of groups and organisations to help us meet our aims stated above. Nesta supports a number of our programmes including the Innovation in Giving Fund and the Centre for Social Action.

Through the Social Action Fund we provide financial support to organisations such as Vinspired and the Citizenship Foundation in order to help them promote social action to new audiences and help achieve the aims of the government. This is also why we support Join In who are embedding the Olympic legacy of volunteering and delivering a summer programme of action.

In June 2012, the Prime Minister commissioned Dame Julia Cleverdon and Amanda Jordan OBE to carry out a review on social action for young people between the ages 10 and 20 with the view of increasing the quantity and quality of the opportunities for young people. They have developed the Campaign for Youth Social Action, supported by HRH The Prince of Wales and business, voluntary and education organisations.

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