It’s that time of year again; advent calendars are starting to appear in shops, Christmas party emails are circulating, and people are feeling charitable. How can businesses ensure that they get the most out of their charitable giving this festive period (and into the new year and beyond)?
The responsibility usually falls upon corporate social responsibility (CSR) teams – or to individuals in other departments such as marketing and HR – who frequently find the task to be an overwhelming burden with the result that businesses often give to the same big-name charities each year rather than to one of the just over 65,000 small charities in England and Wales with an annual income of less than £10,000.
What difference would your charitable funding would make to one of those?
What CSR teams should consider
There are four key questions CSR teams, or those with this responsibility, should consider as they build out their charitable giving plans:
- how valued their charitable activities are by their customers and employees
- if they’re compatible with their brand image
- whether they’re supportive of local charities and good causes
- if the funds will be used effectively
However, in reality, the arduous administration processes involved in finding small charities to give donations to and managing multiple donations often make the ease of giving a lump sum to a single large charity more appealing.
Making sure your business and the charity fit
Our own research found that more than a third (34%) of managers responsible for CSR or charitable giving within their organisation said that the most difficult challenge they faced when trying to check that the charity(ies) their firm supports are the right ones for them, is finding detailed information about each individual charity and their fundraising projects.
Furthermore, 29% of respondents said that a lack of transparency was a significant challenge and an equal number said that the information about relevant charitable projects was not easily accessible in one place.
The drive is clearly there for businesses to branch out in terms of who they support, so where do they fall short?
Lack of information…
Often complicated websites and application forms create a barrier that, combined with a lack of information, means that these under-resourced employees often give up looking beyond the most well-known charitable brands.
On average, managers reported that just 24% of internal CSR resourcing is devoted to the administrative side of charitable giving and fundraising for their organisation.
Technology can help resource-poor organisational CSR teams and time-limited employees to easily, proactively and collaboratively find, support and manage the most relevant charitable projects for their business.
Two thirds (66%) of managers surveyed use standard office tools such as spreadsheets to help them manage their charitable CSR programmes and only 1 in 20 (5%) use an in-house, CSR fund management/fundraising platform.
There is scope for a greater uptake of platform use – by using an online platform, businesses can streamline the donation process and collaborate with other charitable grantmakers to pool funds, making a real difference and having a greater impact within the charitable sector. Some platforms allow users to offer match funding (one pound added to every pound raised).
Incentivise your employees
This incentivises employees to undertake more charitable fundraising activities to raise more money faster whilst the technology takes care of the matching and cultivates the collaborative nature of giving.
According to our research, 77% of CSR managers agreed that local charities and good causes are losing or seeing cuts in funding from central and local government.
Yet despite 75% of managers agreeing that corporate and employee fundraising activities are becoming much more important to the local community, the majority (58%) reported that between just one and five charities/good causes had benefited from their corporate giving in the 12 months leading up to the survey.
Where the funding goes
What’s more, most of this funding was donated to large national charities (42%). This is where the era of online platforms can transform the charitable sector for the better.
Technology can greatly streamline the process of applying for and granting funding – levelling the playing field between charities and good causes of all sizes – while facilitating collaboration between businesses, grant-givers and fundraisers with shared charitable giving objectives.
This ensures that charitable funds are distributed more equitably across the sector to those that need it most, rather than just the largest or best-known, with the added benefit of introducing true transparency when it comes to how the money is ultimately used.
My advice for all businesses is to embrace the festive mood, adopt fundraising technology in the same way that many have introduced new software platforms and put a new and improved charitable giving strategy – one that employees will love because it helps them donate to small and local charities that are close to their hearts – on the wish list for 2020.
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