Not doing any community work? Maybe it’s time to consider it
The current climate is a challenging one, and one in which the sharing of resources – however small – is increasingly important.
The social sector is squeezed by a challenging funding environment and corporate donations in 2013 are down by 27% compared to 2012. The private sector is still under pressure, with both teams and budgets shrinking.
Everyone is being asked to do more with less and there is a growing realisation that collaboration across sectors is an innovative and powerful way to address society’s challenges.
Corporate responsibility practices have grown in sophistication and fashion over the years and are increasingly rooted in principles of collaboration, equity and mutual benefit.
Whatever size or sector, the right business partnership can maximise resources and multiply impact.
Businesses seeking to take a responsible role in society and in local communities can collaborate with charities in a way that up-skills and motivates their own staff, aligns them with the values of their customers or clients, and gives them the competitive edge.
Charities can benefit from pro bono consultancy, an increased field of influence and innovative solutions to organisational challenges.
Commercial property company Telereal Trillium and London-based homelessness charity Broadway provide a good example of a successful partnership.
Broadway had been looking for a long-term corporate partner when they were invited to meet through City Action, the City of London Corporation’s partnership broker.
For the past four years, Telereal Trillium’s community programme has focused on supporting people into the workplace, and this was a compelling fit with Broadway’s work training and mentoring programmes, which aim to get homeless people back into the labour market.
A working agreement was established for Telereal Trillium to fund Broadway’s mentoring programme and to provide vital volunteers to coach people with an experience of homelessness on the steps into work. Sixteen months after that initial meeting, the relationship has slowly but steadily built into a strong partnership.
The first step of any partnership is to look at the challenges that you want to address, and to identify whether your potential partner has the things you lack, so that together you can be a powerful force in tackling your goals.
Looking forward, it is necessary to get practical and to build a plan of action: if money is needed; what fundraising can be done; if expertise is called for and who has this; and if the need is to raise awareness, what event or campaign can be launched.
Yet there are many businesses without the in-house expertise or capacity to manage these cross-sector relationships and create more social impact.
Joining Forces, a toolkit from the City of London Corporation, gathers the experience of business and charity professionals to help both sectors to approach, engage and rely on each other.
The toolkit helps businesses and charities to do that, and to take their next steps together. It doesn’t need to be very complex and there are huge benefits to be had from making it work.
With the Lord Mayor of the City of London, Alderman Fiona Woolf, behind it, the toolkit can help the City of London lead the way in bringing businesses and charities together to make a real difference to the social challenges that affect us all.
To view the toolkit, go here: http://digital.edition-on.net/links/7495_cityoflondon_toolkit.asp
Noa Burger is the corporate responsibility project manager at the City of London Corporation
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