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Michelle Ryder caught up with Michael Field, Managing Director at Workflo Solutions
Field’s opening statement is bold. “I’m a proud philanthropist,” he said. “Now there’s a good ice breaker to stir a conversation at a dinner party! Folk around the table will lean in, look at you quizzically and no doubt will want to know more!”
He admits that up until now, he hadn’t thought of the ‘P’ word much.
“I recently took a step back and totalled up how many individuals and charities we’ve helped over the years, and I realised that philanthropy weaves itself like a visible thread through the organisation. I often discuss with colleagues how vital it is for companies to partner with charities to ‘give back to the community’ and given the current economic climate, there’s every good reason to think this may increase in the coming months,” he explained.
“However, as I researched this further, I curiously questioned the appropriate terminology which collectively describes what we do …and it stared back at me – corporate philanthropy,” he added.
Field argues that we all instinctively love helping others out by donating time, money and effort for charitable causes, but questions what it takes to be a philanthropist – and when one has the right to call themselves a philanthropist?
“Causes come in all shapes and sizes. The pandemic lockdown brought this into sharp focus, and we were delighted to create a great charitable cause called ‘Seven Days of Lockdown Cheer’ to support some of the region’s most vulnerable families hit by the COVID-19 lockdown,” he said.
“I saw how much of a positive impact this had on peoples’ moods and how it invoked a real sense of community spirit and that’s why it was so important to do it. In fact, we quickly realised that seven days wasn’t enough, so we extended it to ten days,” he added.
Field said the initiative was all about having a purpose which actively supported the community in a time of need. “The staff came up with the idea to provide a week-long gift-giving initiative to help charity and community groups across West Lothian where we are headquartered to support families most in need at a time of crisis that could help make their lives a bit more tolerable,” he explained.
Philanthropy comes in many guises
Philanthropy comes in many guises, not just financial support. “Giving someone the gift of your time to run errands for them, help them with chores, or spend time just really listening when they need it. You really don’t need to break the bank to practice philanthropy,” Field said.
Field is a trustee to a young people’s charity called S.M.I.L.E. which was founded by renowned Livingston-based counsellor and psychotherapist Declan Harrigan which supports people across West Lothian with mental health issues.
“This is a passion for me and I’m very proud to be part of this wonderful charity which offers so much scope for young people to help turn their lives around in the most positive way. I freely give my time to advise, support and generally help steer some of the management decision-making to help make lives better for young people affected by their own individual challenges,” he said.
“Sometimes we do feel like the actions we are taking might not make an impact on the bigger scale, but little bits of help go a long way,” he continued.
Field also believes that charitable giving can give the business a sense of purpose, beyond just making profits. “It strengthens your connection to your community and builds morale for both you and your employees,” he said.
“It always feels good to help others. Both you and your employees stand to benefit psychologically when you know you have made a difference to someone else’s life. If you keep it local, it gives you a chance to see at first hand the impact of your time and consideration to make a difference. And remember, employees tend to have greater respect for a boss who gives back,” he concluded.