Supporting charitable organisations is something that human resources professionals have always seen the benefit in, capable of boosting company morale, retaining talent and driving recruitment – as well as giving to a good cause.
Yet, over the recent months of the coronavirus pandemic, the desire to choose the right partnership has grown to new levels as HR practitioners consider how to show their company to its best advantage while helping those who need support the most.
Rosemary Macdonald, CEO of UK Community Foundations – a national network of 46 community foundations – offers her insight into the questions human resources professionals should ask to implement a charity partnership that will resonate with employees.
- What are your company and employee values?
“In order to get the best out of a new charity partnership programme, human resources professionals must acknowledge both the company and employee values. This helps to identify the causes that matter most to your employees collectively. In turn, it strengthens brand identity by enabling the company to communicate their core values through the partnership choice.
“Human resources professionals should also look for partnerships that support their diversity and equity programmes through a similarly forward-thinking approach. For example, UK Community Foundations are working with BAME led organisations to identify good practices across the community foundation network.
“It’s extremely beneficial to encourage involvement in the decision process across all areas and levels of the company. This will help to ensure your talent are invested to the cause – consequently, feeling more enthusiastic about supporting initiatives that will build towards a successful programme.
“Taking part in a charity initiative at work, which employees have played a part in selecting, makes them feel good and in turn, helps to inspire and motivate them in all aspects of their lives.”
- What is your plan of action?
“Don’t just focus on tactics for right here and now – building a long-term strategy is essential. By building a successful CSR strategy, you can promote better brand recognition and positive business reputation. It also has an impact on the company’s abilities to attract new talent and retain current staff.
“There are numerous different types of support that companies can offer via charity partnership programmes, and the kind of support you’d like to offer should also align with employee preferences.
“Whether it’s fundraising through office wide activities, offering development days for employees, or providing pro bono consultancy and training – ensuring employees are involved in the charitable initiatives keeps them engaged. A successful CSR strategy will also play a part in helping employees to feel aligned to company values – which works towards a prosperous company culture.”
- How can you get the most out of your strategy?
“Once the decision process is complete, implementing the CSR strategy or charity partnership programme can sometimes feel daunting to human resources professionals. Working with an organisation such as UK Community Foundations (UKCF) gives businesses access to individuals and organisations who want to improve their communities and helps you focus on the specific goals or causes you have selected as a business.
“For example, to assist charities and housing projects in providing support for local communities, Nationwide Building Society launched its Community Grants Programme and encouraged organisations to apply for grants.
“UKCF tapped into its wide network and encouraged relevant charities to apply. Applications were shortlisted by UKCF ahead of being shared with Nationwide. Nationwide members and employees then played a part in the decision making on which charities to fund – a great demonstration of company-wide involvement in CSR strategy.
“Cases like this demonstrate not only the value of having access to an array of vulnerable individuals and groups, and the impact this has on communities across the UK – but also, the ease of encouraging employee involvement, which therefore enables the company to implement a charity partnership programme that resonates with employee and company values.”
- Consider the current climate – can you help in some way?
“The coronavirus pandemic has led to a great many businesses stepping forward to support local communities and those who are worst affected by coronavirus. We’ve seen many businesses, large and small, providing food parcels or care packages to front line workers and vulnerable individuals.
“However, it’s interesting to look beyond the current pandemic, and highlight other examples of businesses making an impact at a national and local level. A community foundation model enables businesses to divide grants between organisations – allowing them to support a specific cause in a variety of different areas, ensuring every penny of their donation delivers as much benefit as possible.
“For example, the recent Storm Ciara and Dennis which caused severe flooding in parts of the UK, caused catastrophic damage to homes, leaving many people displaced. In response to this, Community Foundations launched a flood appeal which aimed to provide support to the individuals the floods affected, and aiding their recovery.
“This is a good example of businesses responding to the current climate, as well as demonstrating the impact of distributing grants nationally.”
“In summary, company culture is driven by the happiness of employees – which in turn, impacts staff retention and recruitment. Implementing a charity partnership programme assists this further, making for a successful environment.”