10 ways small businesses can benefit by working with charities

1. Pick your charity wisely. If a member of your team has a close link to a particular cause, that is great.  Otherwise go for something relevant that reinforces your own key messages.  For example if your product has an eco slant, then a community recycling project would be perfect.  

2. Donating your time can be as valuable to a charity as donating money. If each team in your organisation can spend a day with the charity helping out, painting the office, answering phones or something equally as functional, you’ll make a huge difference. It also allows team members to enjoy a skills refresh, perhaps being customer- facing for your chosen charity.  

3. Use a fundraising platform that doesn’t charge commission, like BT MyDonate. Your team will put in the time to run, cycle, swim, bake etc, so make sure every effort they make has a direct impact on the charity and doesn’t disappear in commission. 

4. There is a huge pay off in team building and camaraderie in a joint fundraising effort. The charity gets much needed funds, and your organisation benefits from a motivated, positive team.  This works especially well in sponsored fitness drives, as each employee will enjoy improved health awareness, which in turn has a benefit for your organisation. Rather than a short-burn fundraiser, like one sponsored cycle which will only attract those who already cycle and are at a certain level of fitness, why not consider a weight loss initiative spread over the year? 

5. A relationship with a local charity can also help with staff retention as it adds a layer of loyalty to an employee’s perceptions of their day-to-day work. They are committed to the charity as well as to your company. 

6. Focussing in on one charity, social enterprise or project makes things simple and helps you avoid being pulled in different directions by other requests for help. 

7. It can be an interesting differentiator for your company when you are pitching for new business.  Some companies use CSR to select new suppliers; a tactical and proactive approach to working with a respected and relevant charity could stand you in good stead. 

8. Keep communicating with your charity. Don’t just send them a cheque once a year, keep an eye on what they’re doing, link from your site to theirs; you’ll get more out of it and they’ll keep you updated with more opportunities.

9. Don’t feel shy about capitalising on resulting PR. It works for the charity too.  Local newspapers are generally interested in fundraising efforts as there is usually a good picture involved, and a local company working with a local charity makes an even stronger likelihood of a resulting story.  

10. It will make you happy!  Charity matchmaking service Pilotlight’s latest membership survey revealed that volunteering time and skills through a managed approach makes business leaders happier, and improves their own skills. The survey found that nearly 90% of senior business executives said engaging with charities improved their sense of wellbeing and happiness. 

There are so many tangible and psychological benefits to working with a charity that it should not be something solely reserved for corporates. A small business and a small charity can be the perfect partners, growing together for mutual benefit. 

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