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Partnering with charities: part two

Charitable giving has undergone a seismic change, it’s no longer just about raising money, but more about creating strategic partnerships that benefit both the business and the charity. This month the channel shares their views

PrintIT Reseller: Developing a charity partnership can be hugely rewarding, with benefits extending beyond simply ticking the CSR box. How have you embedded charitable giving into your business?

Nick Dabanovic, Managing Director, iTS: “iTS has a long history of supporting local charities and several years ago we decided to hold a staff vote for employees to nominate causes close to their hearts. Overwhelmingly, charities that supported cancer research were the most popular so we now officially support Cancer Research UK as well as a hospice, St Luke’s, local to our London HQ in Harrow. All donations raised by iTS employees are matched by the company which has motivated the team to get behind these great causes and brings everyone together.”

James Abrahart, CEO, Altodigital: “Charitable giving has always been hugely important to myself and my wife Jacqui. We have strong personal links with several charities including OnSide Youth Zones, Hospice UK and Promise Dreams, and this underpins the wider charitable work undertaken by Altodigital on a corporate level.

“Charitable giving is a key part of our business planning, and we regularly communicate this message to our staff detailing the activities we are undertaking, and the wider importance of charity work to the organisation.

“We also strongly advocate that our account managers always deliver the best value for money when working with charities.”

Glenn Kershaw
Glenn Kershaw

Glenn Kershaw, Marketing Manager, DSales: “Develop, distributed in the UK by DSales, has an extensive corporate social responsibility programme and the company is a proud supporter of charities and grass roots sport initiatives, as well as other community events.

“Develop’s main charity interest is Joining Jack which aims to raise awareness and fund research into Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, an incurable muscle wasting disease that affects one in 3,500 boys. The company’s involvement came through MD Jonathan Whitworth’s determination to help Jack and other DMD sufferers after meeting him and his parents Andy and Alex. Jonathan is a trustee of the charity and the Develop team have helped to raise over £300,000.”

Mark Bailey, Managing Director, EBM Managed Services: “EBM’s ethos is about doing business the right way. That’s not simply being great at what you do, it’s also about how you fit in with your community and what you give back. Charitable giving is one of three pillars that support our CSR-type activities – charitable giving, community involvement and environmental responsibility.”

Joe Doyle
Joe Doyle

Joe Doyle, Marketing Director, Annodata: “Annodata, and our parent company, Kyocera, have a long and well-established history of supporting charities and we firmly believe that it’s every businesses’ responsibility to give back to society in some way. The latest example of this is our recently announced sponsorship of the GLL Sport Foundation (GSF), the charity helping young people to unlock their potential in sport. In fact, we’ve been a supporter of GSF since 2015, and we’re proud of the fact that our business is doing its bit to support the next generation of GB Olympic champions.

“What’s clear to us is that to be successful in business, you need to do the right thing by your employees, customers, the environment and wider society, which is where charitable giving comes in.” Simone Hindmarch, Co-founder and Managing Director, Commercial Group: “We have done this through Commercial Foundation, which we set up in 2015. All our team want to be able to give back to their community, especially at a local level. They also want to help disadvantaged young people who aren’t in the same privileged position. Sam, one of the first to go through the Foundation programme, won Print Apprentice of the ear.”

PrintIT Reseller: How do your employees get involved?

Nick Dabanovic: “Our employees regularly take part in charity events, not only for our official charities, but also supporting ad-hoc causes and the whole company supports them in their efforts which we find unites staff at the various ITS offices around the world.”

James Abrahart: “We fully support our employees in any fundraising activities, giving them time to train and participate in everything from charity bike rides, bake sales and football matches, whether it is on an individual or corporate level. In addition, our staff are also invited to promote, donate to, and volunteer with the Altodigital charities we have chosen to work with.”

Glenn Kershaw: “An annual programme of fundraising events is organised in which staff can volunteer to take part. Jonathan Whitworth always leads the way with fundraising challenges including the Wigan 5k and 10k runs, the 50 mile Wigan Bike Ride, for which Develop is also the principal sponsor; and the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge.

“This year, Andrew Critchlow, Develop’s Technical Director ran in the London Marathon in aid of Joining Jack and other members of the team are training for additional challenges over the year.”

Mark Bailey: “They are crucial! We make one cash donation per year (around Christmas) to a local charity, selected by staff ballot. The rest of our charity work is done by staff, supported by EBM. For example, in July, two of our team conducted a skydive for various mental health charities. EBM covered the cost of the jump so that 100 per cent of the funds raised went direct to the charities, gave them the day out of the office to do the jump without taking it from their holiday allowance, and promoted it heavily on our social media platforms to help with fundraising.”

Joe Doyle: “We’ve got a symbiotic relationship with GSF and Annodata derives as much out of the partnership as the Foundation does. We’ve hosted a number of events at which GSFsponsored Olympic medal winners have given presentations to our staff and presented their stories about how they’ve overcome adversity to achieve international sporting success. For example, at one of our events we had the pleasure of hosting Scott Durant MBE, who won gold for GB in rowing at Rio 2016, Lutalo Muhammad MBE, a highly decorated British taekwondo athlete, and Pamela Relph MBE, a double Paralympic rowing champion. This sort of exposure to world-class athletes and their experiences has really helped to inspire our employees and drive them forward to better-support the business.”

Simone Hindmarch: “Our employees get involved in the Foundation, running workshops, advising on mental and physical health, helping with CVs and mock interviews, and providing work experience. They also spend time chatting and mentoring.

“The Foundation moved next door to Commercial in 2018, which means we can get much more involved with the programme, and with the young people going through it. Our team recommends the Foundation print offering to customers, friends and family, which helps by generating income.

“We also run Angel Days, where staff can take one day a year to support the charity of their choice. This includes collecting charity money, supporting people who race for charity, raising money generally.

“We also have a nominated charity which we support every year. This year it’s the cancer charity Maggie’s, which offers free practical, emotional and social support to people with cancer and their families and friends. We support them financially via a Commercial lottery.

“This year a team of seven cyclists rode 500 miles in five days between our offices to raise money for Versus Arthritis. This was to support Aaron George, who came through the Foundation and worked in Commercial before having to give up due to his arthritis. So far the team have raised over £16,000.”

PrintIT Reseller: What business value have you realised from partnering with a charity?

Nick Dabanovic: “We have found that supporting charities has united our staff and brought together team members from various departments who would not necessarily have cause to interact on a regular basis. This undoubtedly has a great effect on the cohesiveness of the company benefitting us as well as the charities we support.”

James Abrahart: “When we form charity partnerships our focus is always 100 per cent aimed at helping the most vulnerable people in our society.

“From a business perspective we have found that charities often have like-minded partners, which has led to us generating new business, building up long-term customer relationships, and has also provided the opportunity to share and gather industry intelligence.”

Glenn Kershaw: “Develop believes strongly in giving back to the community. CSR helps engender a strong sense of teamwork and positive values amongst staff, raising motivation and productivity levels. When staff see the management team leading from the front and exerting themselves physically for a charitable cause, it sets an example of can-do spirit for the greater good.”

Mark Bailey
Mark Bailey

Mark Bailey: “We support the Brainwave Centre in Witham by providing them their printer and support free-of-charge. It’s something EBM has done for a long time. In straightforward terms there’s little direct business value. However, it does help us to be known in the community and reinforces our approach as a company that does business the right way.”

Joe Doyle: “Our affiliation with GSF is not only a good thing in and of itself, but it also helps to boost staff morale and give our customers and employees confidence that we’re a business that honours its commitments. This ultimately means that we are better placed to retain our staff and customers, which in turn helps to grow the business.”

Simone Hindmarch: “We have definitely won new business, and built stronger relationships with existing customers, through the Foundation. It is a unique proposition, having a social enterprise.”

PrintIT Reseller: To what extent do you think customers (and employees) want to align themselves with organisations who place social responsibility high on the business agenda?

Nick Dabanovic: “We believe it is a hugely important factor now and as a Gold Investors in People company, we take our social responsibility very seriously, as do our employees. It is definitely a topic that has come to the fore in recent years and we have seen this not only in requests from our customers for information on our social responsibilities but also from potential employees who have commented that it is an important factor for them when choosing a company to join.”

James Abrahart: “As the wealth and opportunity gaps in society seem to be growing wider it is becoming increasingly important to potential employees and business partners, that a company takes a strong stance on its social responsibility. It is higher on people’s agenda than ever before. The whole company strives to make sure we are the best version of ourselves every day.”

Glenn Kershaw: “Customers and staff feel loyalty towards an organisation where they see that the profit motive is not the sole consideration. A business demonstrating a strong moral compass for good creates trust and commitment from all stakeholders – customers, employees, partners and the wider community.”

Mark Bailey: “Social responsibility is another platform on which to differentiate ourselves. For staff, I think that being supported is an important part of happiness at work. At EBM, we will always assist our team in raising funds for charities they are passionate about. In terms of customers, it seems that larger clients expect some kind of CSR from their suppliers, but some suppliers treat it merely as a box-ticking exercise. Do I think that our approach to CSR wins us business on its own? No. Does it help decision-makers select the right firm to artner with? Absolutely.”

Joe Doyle: “CSR has rapidly risen up the corporate agenda and customers and employees are applying more stringent standards and ethics to the businesses they work with. As such it pays to give back. Businesses are of course there to make money, but this cannot come at the expense of everything else and the social contract. After all, a rising tide lifts all boats. At a time when the number of people that donate to charities regularly is declining, corporate support for charities is more important than ever.”

Simone Hindmarch: “Everyone we interview to join Commercial says that a massive pull has been the opportunity to work with the local community through the Foundation. This attracts right people to add to Commercial team – people who want to give back, go the extra mile and support others. It builds great team spirit and a wider sense of purpose in the business.”