James Reed, the driving force behind the charity Big Give and chairman of The Reed Group, Britain’s biggest and best-known recruitment brand, has been awarded the CBE, the highest ranking Order of the British Empire award, for services to business and charity in the 2023 New Year Honours List.
Mr Reed, 59, is the chair of the board of trustees at Big Give and has helped to build it into the UK’s most successful match funding platform, raising more than £233 million for over 14,000 different charities in the last 15 years.
This year Big Give’s biggest annual appeal, the Christmas Challenge, raised nearly £29 million in one week, the highest amount raised since the initiative began.
At Reed, the largest family-owned recruitment company in the world, revenue has increased from £150 million to £1.3 billion under Mr Reed’s leadership. He has overseen the development of reed.co.uk, the introduction of employment support service provider Reed in Partnership and the international expansion of the company.
Mr Reed said: “This is a great surprise and a great honour. It makes me want to double down on Big Give’s charitable goal of raising £1 billion for good causes through the concept of match funding, which we have pioneered – bringing in philanthropists, companies and foundations to double the value of public donations to thousands of charities.
“This award also reflects Reed’s business purpose of improving lives through work. As we say at Reed; without business there would be no charity and without charity, what’s the point of business? For me, this award feels like an acknowledgement of the hard work of everyone at both Reed and Big Give. I just want to say thank you.”
Mr Reed is a regular media commentator on work and labour market issues, a best-selling author of five books and a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). The Reed Group has supported the Big Give since its launch, including covering running costs for many years and the provision of pro bono office space and services.
Big Give has pioneered the concept of match funding – asking funders to match donations to charities made by members of the public. So £50 from an individual becomes £100 for a good cause, after being doubled by a Big Give match funding ‘champion’ – typically philanthropists, foundations or companies.
Since fundraising began in 2008, Big Give has raised over £233 million for more than 14,000 different charities, including £3.8 million for the Disasters Emergency Committee’s Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal, £5.5 million for Covid-19 relief efforts and over £2 million for the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire.
The main event in Big Give’s calendar is its annual Christmas Challenge, the UK’s largest individual match funding appeal. Over seven days, starting on Giving Tuesday (an international day of giving after the more consumer-focused days of Black Friday and Cyber Monday), the challenge offers supporters of participating charities the opportunity to double their donations. In 2022, the campaign raised almost £29 million for over 1,000 participating charities.
Big Give’s campaigns have been supported by a host of celebrities, including Leonardo DiCaprio, Dame Judi Dench, David Walliams, Stephen Fry, Emilia Fox, Graham Norton, Ruby Wax, Heather Small and Darcey Bussell.
Big Give has worked with some of the biggest names in UK philanthropy and charitable grant-making, which act as match funding champions, including the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, People’s Postcode Lottery, EQ Foundation, Garfield Weston Foundation, The Reed Foundation, The Waterloo Foundation, The Hospital Saturday Fund, The Childhood Trust and others including high-net-worth individuals such as Julia and Hans Rausing.
Big Give’s vision is to raise £1 billion for good causes by the year 2030 and establish itself as one of the UK’s best-known charities. It will continue to promote the match funding model as a unique way to multiply generosity and tackle the world’s big challenges.
Mr Reed is also a trustee of the Reed Foundation, a charity which owns 18% of the Reed Group and supports good causes around the world. Over the past 10 years, the foundation has donated over £10 million to a wide variety of charities from a multitude of sectors, including environment and social mobility organisations in the UK. Its funding is channelled via Big Give, for which it acts as a match funding champion.
Mr Reed lives in London and Wiltshire and is married to artist, beekeeper and whisky entrepreneur Nicola Arkell Reed, with whom he has six children.
Feedback from some of the charities supported by Big Give
“It’s such a great opportunity for a donor to come along and look at who they want to give to, look across all of the charities that are taking part in the campaign and make that decision. I think it’s a fantastic vehicle, not just for charities but for donors as well…It’s a really nice platform to be able to look and filter through…somebody could come along and say, I want to support young people, and so they can filter through the Christmas Challenge and find the charities that are supporting young people. It gives them the opportunity to find out which aligns best, what they think is the greatest need.”- Lisa Thomas, Philanthropy Manager, The Prince’s Trust
“All the investment that they’ve put into that platform as a mechanism…is not something that the DEC could have invested in to create ourselves. It basically wouldn’t otherwise exist if it wasn’t for the fact that it has been generated by Big Give themselves…I know over the years, they’ve done research into the impact of match giving and shared that publicly and with the sector. I think that sharing of knowledge and information around the impact of match giving has certainly been influential and beneficial.” – Simon Beresford, Director of Fundraising & Marketing, Disasters Emergency Committee
“When we first got involved with Big Give [in 2009], I suppose that our fundraising was fairly traditional, certainly as far as the individual donors were concerned – a lot of it was done by Royal Mail. [Big Give] gave us a reason why donors who’d always given by post would actually come online and give…It also meant that we began to communicate with more and more donors by email…we had this reason to write, so “can we keep you updated by email?” It just changed the way we worked in lots of ways.” – Andrew Hollingsworth, previously Business Director at The Passage
“Bees for Development have taken part nearly every year since Big Give began and have found it a wonderful way to engage with our supporters. We of course, would recommend involvement in the Big Give campaign to others, it really does give charities a voice and a wonderful platform for a wider reach.” – Jenny Handley, Head of Fundraising, Bees for Development
For further information, please contact:
James Chapman, J&H Communications
T: 07714 337 710