What we're doing

In 2011, the value of our social investment was £15.3 million compared with £14.3 million in 2010. This is equivalent to 1.5% of reported profit before tax. This figure includes direct cash donations to charities of £4.8 million and £10.5 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 £12.4 million on behalf of pro bono clients, making the total social contribution £27.7 million, or 2.7% of reported profit before tax.

Many of our companies give employees paid time off to volunteer, recognising the benefits this brings to charities and the contribution it can make to employee development and job satisfaction. For example, in 2011, over 600 employees at Ogilvy New York volunteered on its Annual Corporate Service Day to support 36 causes. In the UK, the London and Manchester offices of MEC came together to create MEC:it: where small teams of employees worked on community projects around London. 

A number of our companies support educational causes. Examples in 2011 included:

  • GroupM India launched ‘Lighting the sparks’, an initiative to improve child literacy by providing books and volunteering in Mumbai, Bangalore, Delhi and Chennai. GroupM donated 1,500 books and toys, enough to start eight libraries, and visited the libraries quarterly with a group of volunteers. 

  • In London, ‘JWTeach’ is an initiative whereby employees from JWT donate their time, visit schools and explain their disciplines, skill sets and what is interesting about their jobs. 

  • One week per year, Burson-Marsteller and its partners in EMEA work with local charities dedicated to helping children, as part of the company’s ‘1 Week 4 Kids’ program. The fourth edition of the program in 2011 had record participation from 23 EMEA offices. Dedicated teams across the network provided pro bono communication advice, volunteered and raised funds. Activities included art exhibitions, management sumo wrestling, virtual campaigns and blood donation. The campaign raised over €120,000.

Our executives also give pro bono advice and support and serve as charity trustees and advisors. For example, Sir Martin Sorrell is an active participant in programs at many international business schools. He is chairman of the Executive Committee and of the International Business Council (112 global CEOs) of the World Economic Forum and a member of the Business Council in the US. He is a member of the UK Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Group. He is a Patron of the British Museum, a member of the corporate Advisory Group of the Tate and on the International Advisory Board of The Russian Museum in St. Petersburg. He is also deputy chairman of the Mayor of Shanghai’s International Business Leaders Advisory Council; and chairman of the Mayor of Rome’s IBAC and of the Mayor of London’s IBAC.

The parent company

The parent company supported a range of charities and non-profit organisations, with a particular focus on education, the arts and young people. We are reviewing our social investment strategy to make sure our investment aligns with our business objectives and has the maximum possible beneficial impact. 

In 2011, we supported a number of organisations, including: 

  • Central St. Martins College of Art and Design

  • Charles Edward Brooke School

  • Coram, the UK children’s charity

  • NABS, charity which offers financial, practical and emotional support to those in the advertising industry

  • The Place2Be, a school-based counselling service, dedicated to improving the emotional wellbeing of children

  • The National History Museum

  • The National Portrait Gallery

See Education and social mobility for more information on our investment in this area in the UK and China.

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