Small charities across the UK are in trouble. Our methods for building relationships and fundraising are being outdated by new technology. We are now finding our networks of donors, partners and constituents are migrating to a new technological space, and small charities like us risk being left behind.
Like all charities big and small, we are now putting our hopes into growing our volunteer base and reaching out to new talent to help us evolve. The voluntary sector landscape is rapidly changing. We have always had deep roots in civil society and our connections inside communities go far back in history, but we are finding it ever harder to reach the people who care about our causes. We are counting on enthusiastic volunteers from the digital innovation and creative sectors who can take our message that ‘community matters’ and make it seen and heard by stakeholders across the world.
How can the business community help?
New corporate initiatives signal a new dawn for ethical consumer culture. The world’s most powerful multinational tech companies, Google.org and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, are leading corporate giving programmes’ aimed at the poorest communities. Since 2013, Google.org has spent £9m in the UK. Jacqueline Fuller, managing director of Google’s charitable arm, told the Guardian ‘we feel it’s important to be good citizens in the place where we live and work… So this is an area that’s natural for us to invest in’. We are aligned with this same philanthropic attitude. Making West Euston a better place to work and live is our ethos: we want the local business community to get on board with us, for the benefit of the community as a whole.
What corporate giving means to small charities
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a term to describe a company’s efforts to improve society in various ways. It can take the form of match gift programs, where a company will double the donations that their employees are giving to non-profits. Some companies offer volunteer grants, supporting their employees to do work for charities; other companies will enter into partnership with a charity and put that charity’s name on a major marketing campaign. Quite often small charities like ours require small, low cost commitments to write a few blog posts, give legal advice, make a video or help with a social media campaign.
The practice of corporate giving is not a law in the UK. However it is becoming increasingly part of the way businesses operate; it has the potential to strengthen the relationship between small charities and businesses, creating long lasting, mutually beneficial, partnerships between the two.
The benefits of a corporate–charity relationship are win-win. In its early days, CSR began as a cynical strategy used by unethical corporations to undermine anti-corporate activists and movements. Today, socially responsible initiatives on behalf of companies are increasing people’s loyalty to brands, and therefore are increasing their profits. As an ‘ethical consumer culture’ gains a wider acceptance, the chances for local charities to improve livelihoods are also increasing.