Community involvement

As a business that generated more than £3.4 billion of revenue in 2016 in the UK, we have a responsibility to many stakeholders, including the local communities in which we operate. Our vision of doing the right thing is, at the highest level, about giving something back through sharing our talent.

This year, almost a third of our UK workforce volunteered during working hours, and we're proud that this in turn benefited some 16,000 people. We’ve measured the value of our investment in community work for many years, using the London Benchmarking Group’s methodology. Our total community contribution reached £7.4 million this year, creating value for our people, our communities and our business.

Together with various subsidised secondments and placements, our community programme PwC remains accredited with Business in the Community’s CommunityMark, the UK’s only national standard that publicly recognises leadership and excellence in community investment.

Our approach

Working with the communities around our offices has been part of our culture for many years. It’s an integral part of being a responsible business and creates value for our communities and for us.

We know that many of our people want to give something back to society, so we offer a significant amount of time – up to six days per year - for any of our staff or partners to volunteer during working hours. It’s an attractive part of their overall career experience with us. We’ve mapped our volunteering activities to PwC’s core competencies, to help staff identify how volunteering can be part of their overall development, and encouraged them to consider it as they set their annual objectives. Our portfolio of support also includes financial contributions, alongside pro bono and discounted work.  This mix offers our people a variety of ways to contribute, so that as many of them as possible can benefit from the opportunities available.

We’ve designed our programme to maximise our impact on behalf of our most significant community stakeholders by using our professional skills, and we have an ongoing target for more than 50% of our volunteering activity to be skills based each year.  

We focus on developing long-term relationships, so that we can make a lasting difference, and we hold annual review meetings with our community partners to discuss our progress.

Our activities are supported by the PwC Foundation, a registered charity set up to promote social inclusion and sustainable development in the UK.

Opportunities and risks

There are few risks associated with our communities. But, at a strategic level, it's important that the communities around the offices where we operate are stable and flourishing, to ensure that our business operations can continue uninterrupted. We also have to be careful to make sure that all our activities adhere to our independence and compliance policies.

On the other hand, there are several excellent opportunities arising from proactive involvement in our communities. First, our people like to give something back to society and community engagement is a key part of maintaining high people engagement and retention. Second, helping our communities helps maintain our reputation as a  responsible business. In addition, the growing interest in measuring the social value of business activity, and in social enterprise as a way of tackling some of the toughest social issues in Britain, means there is increasing crossover between our community work and our work for clients in the public and not-for-profit sectors. So our community programmes inform our client work and vice versa. And it engenders in our people a better understanding of value beyond financial accounting, as part of their overall awareness of sustainability. 


Our community programmes focus on four key areas:

  1. Raising educational achievement and employability in the communities where we have a presence.
  2. Supporting social enterprises
  3. Increasing awareness of environmental issues
  4. Supporting our staff to fundraise for charities through the PwC Foundation

Across each of these, we work closely with both our volunteers and the beneficiaries of their work, to understand the business and social impacts our community programmes generate.  And we also work closely with our charities practice, to provide a range of business support to charities across the UK. 

You can find out more about each area in the corresponding tabs below.

1. Our ‘Whole School’ approach

Education has been at the heart of PwC’s involvement in our local communities for over 20 years. We focus on raising educational achievement and employability skills, to help address the issues of most relevance to the communities where we work.

We’ve taken best practice from each of our regional programmes to create a ‘Whole School’ model for working with schools. This means co-ordinating our efforts to offer an integrated set of interventions to our chosen partner schools, based on a shared understanding of the schools’ needs and aspirations.

Our whole school approach covers 25 schools nationally. We tailor a holistic suite of volunteering activities, drawing on our professional skills to achieve a greater impact by helping them to address the key issues of most importance to them - from Ofsted ratings, or educational attainment, through to working with specific years, or under-achieving groups within the school.

Such activities can include:

  • acting as school governors;
  • coaching teachers and head teachers;
  • delivering leadership workshops;
  • acting as role models to students through our mentoring programmes;
  • supporting students with their literacy and numeracy; and
  • giving students an insight into the world of work and business, through activities such as CV/interview training, office visits and work placements.

We also work closely with our colleagues in PwC’s recruitment teams on social mobility initiatives, working with the charity Making the Leap. And, we’re active supporters of the #iwill Step Up to Serve campaign, encouraging young people to recognise the skills gained through volunteering.

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2. Social enterprise

Our ‘social enterprise hub’ the Fire Station houses a complementary group of inspired organisations making a positive social impact.  They include the School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE), Social Enterprise UK (SEUK), Blossoms Healthcare, Beyond Food, and the award-winning Brigade – our joint-venture social enterprise bar and bistro, which provides training and employment opportunities for people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

The Fire Station is also home to our own Centre for Social Impact (CSI) – a knowledge exchange for social innovation and impact measurement – and to the PwC Social Entrepreneurs Club. Launched in 2011, the Club provides mentoring, masterclasses, networking events, newsletters and other support to social entrepreneurs, and has more than 250 members across the UK.

Our network of Centres for Social Impact (CSIs) allows us to foster social innovation and impact measurement, and to share our knowledge with social enterprises near our large regional offices, to accelerate positive change across the UK. Since the first CSI was set up at the Fire Station, five others have been established in our Scottish, Leeds and Birmingham offices.

This year, we also made a commitment to ‘Buy social’, giving social enterprises access to big business.

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3. Environmental volunteering

Climate change and local development are adversely impacting biodiversity globally and across the UK.  Frequently, direct intervention is required to support areas of ecological importance and to maintain the environment for the people who live near our offices.

Our approach to environmental volunteering aims to increase our people’s environmental education, and links global environmental issues to local volunteering activity. This allows us to help our people understand the value of natural capital and ecosystem services, and provides them with tips to support biodiversity at home.

We work closely with a range of partners - including the RSPB, the Marine Conservation Society and the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust - to implement this approach across the UK. They support us in maximising the learning opportunities and the environmental impact of our approach.

Through this programme, our people are building a greater understanding of global sustainability issues such as biodiversity loss, carbon emissions and water pollution.

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4. Financial support

Our community activities are underpinned by the PwC Foundation.  This is a registered charity (No 1144124), set up in October 2011 to promote social inclusion and sustainable development in the UK. 

We have a long history of supporting charitable causes, and in February 2014 we asked our people to vote for strategic partner charities to support through the Foundation. They chose:

  • Alzheimer's Society
  • Alzheimer Scotland
  • Groundwork
  • National Literacy Trust

They join many other charities supported by the Foundation including:

  • Beyond Food Foundation
  • Wellbeing of Women

We raise funds through activities great and small throughout the year, as part of our firm-wide fundraising initiative, ‘The Race for £3m’. This year, we reached our £2m milestone.

Matched Giving Programme

Our Matched Giving Programme allows us to donate a proportion of our charitable funds to charities chosen by our people, boosting the funds they've raised through a wide range of activities.

In 2015, over 850 of our people applied to our Matched Giving Programme - and we contributed over £145,000 to more than 250 UK charities and voluntary organisations this way.

Blueprint Volunteering Awards Scheme

Many of our people give their time and skills to charities on a sustained basis outside of working hours. That's why, in 1995, we established awards to recognise these people and their work and began to give additional financial support to the charities they work with.

In 2015, we recognised over 160 people through our Blueprint Volunteering Awards and contributed over £30,000 to their charities. Of these, four volunteers went on to achieve a Blueprint Volunteering Excellence Award, receiving up to £3,000 for the organisation they support.

Payroll giving (Give As You Earn)

Payroll giving offers our people a simple and efficient way to donate to charity on a regular basis, directly from their pre-tax salaries through the Give As You Earn scheme operated by the Charities Aid Foundation.  In recent years we’ve increased our Give As You Earn participation, with 4.3% of our staff now collectively contributing over £530,000 annually.

Disaster relief

When the Disasters Emergency Committee launches an appeal, we encourage our people to support it - including helping them understand the most tax-effective way of giving.

Meanwhile, our Executive Board considers all other appeals on a case by case basis, contributing when appropriate.


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5. Measuring impacts

We want to understand the impacts that our community programmes are having, so that we can direct our efforts and investment towards those that can have the greatest social impact. So, we’re moving our measurement focus beyond traditional ‘inputs’ (what we’ve spent), and more towards the ‘outputs’ (what we’ve done) and ‘outcomes’ (what has happened).

Measuring social impacts

We design our programmes to help raise their beneficiaries’ business awareness, job readiness and aspirations, motivating them and giving them confidence, as well as giving them the skills they need to succeed in the workplace.  To help us understand how well we’re achieving these goals, we survey the beneficiaries we work with.

Our survey evidence shows that we’re making a strong, positive difference. In 2015, as a result of our programmes:

  • 86% thought their business awareness had improved
  • 83% felt more job-ready
  • 78% thought they had developed their skills
  • 73% said their aspirations had been raised
  • 74% felt more confident
  • 72% felt more motivated

Additionally, in 2015 we completed our first analysis of long-term social impact. Brigade is our joint venture social enterprise bar and restaurant in central London, which provides training and employment opportunities for people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. We published a study of Brigade’s first three years, analysing the Social Return on Investment (SROI) generated and found that for every £1 invested, £1.57 of social value has been created.

Measuring business impacts

We also survey our volunteers before and after they take part in volunteering, to understand how they’ve been affected by their experiences.  We look across four dimensions – skills, engagement, networks and awareness. Our evidence shows that, following volunteering, our people rate themselves more highly across all four areas, with particular increases in their ‘soft’ skills, wellbeing and wider social awareness.  In turn, this contributes to our success in the marketplace.  You can read more in our lessons learned report on the business benefits of mentoring social entrepreneurs.

It’s been hugely powerful in conveying the business benefits of our volunteering programmes and has enabled us to link volunteering with our people’s personal development.

Ultimately, we seek to quantify the impact of our community programmes using our TIMM methodology. For example, this year we valued the contribution to the UK economy from our investment in Brigade during 2016 at £0.5m.

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6. Charities group

Affordable services for the not-for-profit sector

For more than 20 years our Charities Group has offered affordable audit, assurance, tax and advisory services to charities. We’re proud of the breadth of work we undertake with them, which includes advice on strategy, operations, taxation, risk and governance.

We audit more of the top 100 charities than any other professional services firm, with many household names within our client base.  We also support small charities and since in 2011, have operated a discounted service to support those which may otherwise struggle to afford necessary professional advice.

Charities are also looking to understand the social impacts of their core business and community investments. We’re able to draw upon our experience in impact measurement to help them achieve their goals more effectively, to demonstrate the full value of their services, and to manage their activities to maximise their impact.

Our expertise helps charities of all sizes to work more effectively and deal with change, through a combination of paid work and capacity building by our volunteer teams.

Visit our Charities pages to find out more about the value we add to these organisations.

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Contact us

David Adair
Head of Community Affairs
Tel: +44 (0)20 7212 7140

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