The number of charities operating in UK has increased dramatically in the past 10 years. Almost all are started because of a heartfelt desire to help others. But with so many to choose from, and probably, so many approaching you for help, how do you decide who to support?
With the number of constant approaches, it’s easy to become numb to the requests for funds, and do nothing.
But many of us do want to support good causes, and have causes we care about, many for very personal reasons. For me, the two areas that have been part of my life for the past 15 years have been Bridge2Aid, and Forever Angels, both in Tanzania. The link with Bridge2Aid came about because a friend opened my eyes to the problem of pain caused by a lack of access to basic dentistry. Forever Angels cared for each of our three children after they were born and before they came to live with us. Those personal connections run deep, and often last a lifetime.
Choosing a cause for your business
But what about choosing charities and causes to support in your CSR strategy? How do you make the ‘right’ choice, engage the team, and maximise your chances of success?
The evidence suggests that you should choose a cause that fits, rather than simply one that you are personally passionate about. Personal passions are great, but if they are unrelated to the business sector or your community, evidential wisdom would suggest you should support them personally, and not in the business.
Four steps to help you decide
There are four steps to deciding who to support, and getting buy-in:
- Start with your sector – find a cause that fits. The key is to choose causes that make sense to your stakeholders. For many people reading, that will be dental charities and local groups or causes. If you have to use too many steps to explain how the cause fits with your business, you risk confusing people and losing both impact and buy-in.
- Then look to your your community – what are the main issues that charities address locally? Who is doing great work that you can support? Are they big enough to make a difference, but small enough for you to engage with?
- Include your people – while a free-for-all when it comes to choosing who to support will likely be unsuccessful, if you narrow the field to tick boxes 1 & 2, giving people a say will help them to feel engaged.
- Finally, if you can, consider a community fund. This is a small amount of money that you set aside each month to give away to small local charities who might not be big enough to be your main choices, and for whom a small donation will make a big difference. Give members of your team the responsibility of distributing the money each month.
By covering your sector, the community and smaller charities, you can both maximise impact AND manage your approach. You cant do everything, but you can play your part in painting a picture of change and hope that charities have a vision for.