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Can Giving Something Back Really Be Good For Business?

Reputation is everything when it comes to making a business work. If your customer sees you in a good light, then you are halfway there.

Larger corporations are moving rapidly down the ‘purpose-driven’ route. They are using Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as a marketing tool to attract and retain customers who want to spend with brands that align with their own values. Businesses with a clear ‘Brand Purpose’, those seen as making lives better, grew three times faster in value on average over the past 12 years*.

Many smaller businesses do want to give back to society and make a difference, but it’s not always easy without designated CSR resource. Everyday pressures take over. And when time and money are tight, good intentions can fall by the wayside.

We wanted to find out directly from the very businesses and charities themselves why charitable giving seemed to be the preserve of the large enterprise, so we surveyed people from both businesses and charities to see where the disconnect was.


One in four businesses have yet to give

Firstly, one in four businesses surveyed have yet to give. A failure to see the benefits is a significant factor in their decision.

Increasing your bottom line, elevating customer perception and retaining and attracting staff are just a few of the fundamental aims all companies have. While there are many tactics to achieve these aims, charitable giving may not be considered as one of those tactics or credited with helping to drive any of those success measures.

Yet out of the businesses who do give regularly to charities, two thirds saw noticeable positive impacts on their profitability, and the more they give, the more benefits they report. Those that donate over 0.5% of turnover were:

  • twice as likely to report enhancements in company reputation
  • nearly 50% more likely to see it help recruit and retain staff.


Giving is not built into business planning

For most, giving doesn’t seem to be all that regular. Aside from the occasional charity bake-sale or ad-hoc donations, giving is often not part of company strategy. This is especially true in small to medium business where margins can be tight and overheads prohibitive.

However, it doesn’t require big bucks to make a difference. Alone, a small business may feel just that….small. Yet small businesses make up 99% of the 5.7 million businesses in the UK and have huge potential to be a force for good. Enabling every business to donate in manageable increments when revenue allows could lead to a ‘give to grow’ movement that could really change things.


Making giving work for your business

BTE Automotive is a family run garage service business based in Hampshire. Started by husband and wife team Jan and David Parker 27 years ago, day to day operations are now run by their son Barry. BTE Automotive are building giving into their business in a serious way.

“Our values are at the heart of what we do,” says Barry. “As well as offering our customers the best possible service, we also want to give back to the community we serve and the causes close to our heart. By donating a £1 for each MOT undertaken this year, we’ll raise more than £3,500. And that’s just the start. We’re looking at giving through product sales and ways to get customers involved in choosing which charities we support. It’s a great way to develop trust and develop relationships.”



What’s stopping you?

So we can see the benefits to business giving, but what are the other barriers?

With only 2% of charities’ income coming from the business sector, something is amiss. For starters; regular giving is a pain. For a business to donate off the back of their sales, there must be a Commercial Participation Agreement (CPA) in place which involves negotiations, admin and legal issues. This can actually mean that charities may turn down donations under a certain threshold because it’s just not viable for the amount of time spent (average of ten hours to secure one donation from an SME) and businesses have enough on their plate without philanthropic efforts actually costing them time and therefore money. What a waste. Charities lose out on vital funding and businesses lose out on long-term benefits of valuable PR, reputation building and profits. 

The good news is that online platforms like Work for Good now exist which make business giving easy by automatically creating commercial participation agreements and removing all the legal, tax and admin hassle. Hopefully, this will lead to a huge increase in business giving to the benefit of both businesses and charities alike!

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Danny Witter is the Co-Founder and CEO of Work for Good, an organisation created to make business giving easy, flexible and beneficial to SMEs and the charities they choose to support. It connects businesses to charities and takes away all the problems (legal, admin, tax etc.) that businesses encounter in the giving process. Participating businesses also have access to a distinctive mark that creates a point of difference and a connection to a movement that is transforming the world of corporate giving.

Informi readers receive a 50% discount to first-year membership of Work for Good using the code: DOGOOD2018.

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