Geraldine Witt

Name: Geraldine Witt
Job Title: Reward and Recognition Officer
Organisation: The University of Southampton

Celebrating a culture of giving can make a world of difference



The University of Southampton channel this in their giving culture, motivating people to give back and help causes at home and beyond.

Since 2005 University of Southampton staff have donated nearly £850,000 to a variety of causes and charities.

Out of that total, its employees have donated nearly £124,000 to the University itself, boosting many of its lifesaving research and philanthropic initiatives.

Over £150,000 has been raised for international aid and over £80,000 has been donated to local churches.

We sat down with Geraldine Witt, Reward and Recognition Officer in Human Resources, to uncover how the University’s Give As You Earn (GAYE) employee benefit offering has helped inspire staff to donate.

Q&A with Geraldine

University of Southampton staff have donated an amazing £839,393.67 to charity. Can you tell us why is GAYE so important to employees?

We highlight Give As You Earn as a key benefit for new starters to the University. As well as informing people as early as possible, we also share as many stories as we can with our existing newsletter subscribers. It’s important for us to maintain engagement, as the University has always had such a strong giving culture. It’s great to see that our donors also feel strongly about local causes, including our achievements in scientific research and philanthropy. We are very proud of the spirit of generosity that has been encouraged, because it will make an impact locally and also across the world.

How have you linked GAYE into the rewards and benefits initiatives you run, and the broader employee culture at Southampton University?

Our mission is to change the world for the better.  We have always had a history of life-saving research, and we have this into our core messaging, making this a central vision for our employees.

We share Give As You Earn as a benefit from the beginning of someone’s career with us and we make it easy for them to donate via CAF’s Give As You Earn portal. We have also made the offering more prominent on our HR webpage, and regularly feature stories in our Reward and Recognition newsletter. CAF also attend our annual benefits fair day and speak to staff first hand.

What tips and advice would you give to other universities looking to promote GAYE to staff?

I would begin with recommending it as a benefit for your employees, because ultimately it is the most effective way to give. A lot of people don’t know where to start in terms of donating to charity, or which charity to give to - Give As You earn allows you that time to consider which cause you want to give to, and equally gives you access to give quickly and effectively.


Endorsing lifesaving research

The University has clearly been successful in engaging with its employees and encouraging them to back vital work that is carried out in its very own premises.

Over the years, the University has been successful in organising a multitude of fundraising campaigns, including a £25 million campaign to build the UK’s first Centre for Cancer Immunology.

Using that funding, the University has also developed the Cancer Immunology Talent Fund, which will provide a solution to the shortage of senior immunologists working in cancer research and will help train the next generation of specialists, through initiatives like the UK’s first integrated PhD in Cancer Immunology.

In 2019, the University and the charity Against Breast Cancer also announced an 11-year £2.25million major new investment at its premises which will help fund research into secondary spread, the main cause of breast cancer related deaths.

The University also conducts research into the prevention and treatment of blindness, and recently made a significant breakthrough to treating sight loss in old age.

Find out more about the University’s giving initiatives.


CAF Give As You Earn Giving Tuesday toolkit

Donating through Payroll Giving is simple and easy as you already have the scheme in place. Start engaging your employees early.

Seven things you might not know about payroll giving

Payroll giving is a great way to give regular support to the causes you care about.

Five benefits of payroll giving to charities

Find out how charities benefit when you give through your salary.

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