Contributing to our local and global communities is both an opportunity and a responsibility. It helps us inspire employees, assist beneficiaries, improve our reputation and meet our obligations.

Our global community programme, RE Cares, supports employee and corporate engagement that makes a positive impact on society through volunteering and giving. It is made effective by a global network of RE Cares Champions – which expanded in 2015 to more than 210 colleagues – representing all our businesses. In our 2015 global Employee Opinion Survey, 87% of staff said that we are a company that supports community engagement.

We prioritise education for disadvantaged young people that furthers one or more of our unique contributions as a business, including universal, sustainable access to information. RE Cares activities range from reading support programmes and charity fundraising initiatives to donations of time and services. A key component of RE Cares is Two Days, which gives all employees two days’ paid leave a year for volunteer work of their own choosing.

Our central donations programme aligns with the RE Cares mission of advancing education for disadvantaged young people that furthers one or more of our unique contributions as a business. The grant-giving process is employee-led; employees anywhere in the Group can nominate relevant charities for funding from a budget voted on by RE Cares Champions. Decision criteria include potential impact of a project on beneficiaries and opportunities for staff engagement, including volunteering. In 2015, RE Cares Champions donated approximately $400,000 in central funds to 40 charities. Successful projects included a School Library in a Box programme in Zanzibar, Tanzania; a project addressing violence in schools in Colombia; and the provision of legal and educational services to foster youth in Los Angeles, California. Read summaries of more projects we supported centrally.

In 2015, we donated £3.1m in cash (including through matching gifts) and £3.0m in products, services and staff time, with a market value of approximately £13.7m. 37% of employees were engaged in volunteering through RE Cares. In the year, we increased employee volunteering by 21%.