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What does it mean to be a business’s Charity of The Year?

In many cases, not an actual lot.

The intention of such an arrangement is to create a healthy collaboration between business and charity that has a wider impact on the local area.

Today is a good day

The business easily fulfils its Corporate Social Responsibility when partnering with a charitable provider that already has the expertise and infrastructure to deliver targeted support to the area from which the company’s staff and customers likely hail (and where the company often makes its profits).

Partnering with a charity brings lots of PR and media opportunities. It shows the public that the company respects its roots and commits to investing in the locality in which it trades. Part of the business’s commitment to the area may be the launch of a grant-making fund in their name, which serves the business’s aims, and one that the charity may administer; however, this isn’t always the case. Other options could involve the ‘sponsoring’ of a project or community build, or simply donating to the charity’s general funds.

Sometimes, a business nominates a Charity of the Year as an incentive for its staff to gain personal skills and benefit from self-development opportunities through fundraising activities. Statistics show that this can boost staff morale and productivity levels. It’s also humbling for them to give back to people less fortunate, which can strengthen company loyalty.

The charity benefits from a higher profile and more credibility via the business’s network. It typically received a financial boost, and greater marketing expertise, reach and resources. The charity can also achieve greater things if the business’s staff members volunteer their time and skills, too.

A partnership between business and charity should be a rich, effective, win/win initiative. However, I know from the chats I have with organisations of various sizes that being nominated as a business’s Charity of the Year doesn’t equal the wonderful outcomes I’ve mentioned above…in many cases, the charity is ghosted by the business they have either been nominated by or agreed to partner with. The business gets value from the initial announcement and that can be enough for some companies, which is a sad state of affairs in the current climate and when so many good causes are struggling to keep their heads above water.

Whilst the amount of funding available in the third sector isn’t largely different to what it’s always been, there’s more competition from other charities also chasing awards. Now that the pandemic is waning, emergency grants have given way to funds that carry quite specific criteria—which can see some causes out of the running altogether. Despite the fact that there’s currently a nationwide cost-of-living crisis, some charities have been forced to turn to the public for donations, as well as small and medium-sized businesses—who are themselves struggling.

Partnering with a business represents a huge lifeline for a charity as well as a huge opportunity for the company in question. It can relieve a lot of pressure on the good cause, which may be on the verge of closure in the current climate, after the financial woes of the pandemic (72% of charities have stated that the pandemic had a negative impact on their finances) and as it faces perpetually escalating running costs.

It’s worth reminding donors of all types that no profit is made within charitable organisations; the vast majority of the funding they receive goes to their beneficiaries to improve their lives in some way. For a business to ghost a charity after they’ve benefitted from the news of the partnership is wholly unfair. Maybe some businesses just don’t understand the weight of the support they may promise.

Given that businesses can gain so much from this kind of arrangement, I’m puzzled as to why so many companies don’t nominate a charity partner. Believe me, if ever there was a time to create such a collaboration, it’s now!

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