Over the last couple of years, many businesses have put themselves forward to help and take a larger role within their communities through some of the consequences of the Covid crisis.
When a local business joins with a local community organisation (community group, charity, social enterprise), they can together make great things happen and affect their local communities in life-changing ways.
When a business raises funds for a large national charity, they do good work, but often have little idea about the difference and the impact that has made. However, whether you support a community organisation in the long-term or in bite-sized, time-limited ways, when a business supports a local community organisation it knows the difference it will make and what its support will achieve.
At Support Cambridgeshire, we recognize that local business has a major role to play in the health and well-being of local communities. We would like to help develop mutually beneficial, impactful, and strategic partnerships between the business and community/charity sectors.
The benefits of working with a local community organisation
Businesses experience a multitude of benefits when they donate to charities, they gain even more when they build relational and meaningful partnerships.
There are a few reasons why your business should consider working with a charity.
Charitable giving is good PR, and it makes sense for business, especially for small businesses that depend on their communities for custom, goodwill, and recommendations.
People want to support small and medium-sized businesses now more than ever. Working with a community group demonstrates that you give back to your community and are in business for more than profit. As an SME, you won’t see as large a tax deduction as big corporations and enterprises do, but you will find other greater benefits. Don’t overlook the other benefits of philanthropy.
Company culture is important to future and current staff, and your workers will feel good about working for a company that gives back. Younger staff, in particular, value working for a company that is positively involved in its community. A company involved in its community sees improved team morale, customers are more likely to feel good about supporting the company and perhaps be prepared to commit their loyalty without the cost and fuss of a loyalty card scheme.
There are many ways you can help and assist beyond a monetary donation.
Perhaps the most readily available way your business can support a charity or community organisation.
Gifts in kind
Local businesses can often provide meeting venues free of charge or low-cost, or assist in supporting community events.
Products and services
Local businesses can support community organisations with products and services. Perhaps providing a preferential rate for community organisations?
CSR and volunteering
As s business owner or senior manager, you will possess skills that could be invaluable for small community organisations.
Increasingly, community organisations are having to think like a business, it Is not that they are looking to make profits or even change what they do, but with funds tight and competition for funding and commissioned services increasing, community organisations need to be sharper, quicker and more adaptable. Your experience, skills, and knowledge could help a charity not merely survive, but grow, thrive, and succeed.
Staff time, expertise, skills, and more
As a local business, your staff team will have skills and experience that could likewise be invaluable. Whether is maybe in providing logistics experience, tendering for contracts, Human Resources advice, accounting (please be aware that charity accounting is different from business accounting) and organisational development, to name but a few of the areas which staff can impart to new and existing community organisations, to help them strengthen, grow and become more impactful and accountable.
Staff may be interested in volunteering with such organisations, but simply aren’t aware of local groups to support.
Could you provide your staff with volunteering time (X days) each year for them to offer their skills to a community organisation of their choice? Many larger organisations do this as part of their staff retention strategy.
It isn’t all one way
Staff who volunteer their time for a community organisation will in turn gain valuable new knowledge and experience that can benefit them personally and professionally and also benefit your business.
Employee staff team day volunteering
This popular form of corporate volunteering can produce great benefits for the right community group at the right time and help create a sense of togetherness and achievement for your team.
However, do consider if your team is using its skills to the maximum benefit for the community organisation. Painting a community hall may look good afterward, but could your team have helped in other skill-based practical ways?
This form of volunteering is also difficult for smaller community organisations to accommodate and where they can, it can take time to organise a successful volunteering day. Please don’t expect every charity to be able to accept your offer.
One issue we, at Support Cambridgeshire, often face, is a large corporation giving the task of organising such a day to an intern who knows little about the company and what the expectations of the company are. Please do ensure that whoever is organising this for you has decision making power within your organisation and can answer simple questions such as:
- How many people you would like to be on the volunteering day?
- How long would you consider ‘a day’?
- Where in the county you would be happy to travel to?
- What type of things your team can offer?
We would urge businesses to talk with us before approaching a charity directly where we can help you fully develop the offer you are making.