The Mutual Benefits of a Business-Charity Relationship
Should companies engage in philanthropy at all? The economist Milton Friedman laid down the gauntlet decades ago, arguing in a 1970 New York Times Magazine article that the only “social responsibility of business” is to “increase its profits.” [i]
However, with the emergence of a more informed, transparent and connected world, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is core to creating a sustainable and successful business. For some businesses this can all feel like uncharted territory as they engage with an activity which might traditionally have been left to governments and civil society.
Evidence of this shift can be seen in the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) UK Giving Report 2017 (The UK’s biggest survey on charitable giving) which showed that at an overall level, the total raised came to around the same as in 2016 (£9.7 billion), and almost 9 in 10 people (89%) did something charitable, or performed a social action in 2016, a 10% increase on the previous year. [ii] This should come as no surprise as the UK is the most generous country in Europe, followed by Ireland and the Netherlands.
Benefits for the Charity
To create a meaningful and sustainable relationship with opportunities to connect on an ongoing and regular basis, it is important to identify a charity based on common objectives and shared values, otherwise it will be deemed a one-sided relationship. FinTrU have selected a charity, Include Youth, not too dissimilar to its own values base and ethos, in that there is an emphasis on focusing on both fulfilling the potential and the development needs of young people. Include Youth are a regional rights-based charity for young people in, or leaving care, from disadvantaged communities, or those whose rights are not being met. The charity aims to help improve their employability and personal development. The major difference that makes the invaluable relationship between FinTrU and Include Youth stand out over most traditional Business-Charity relationships, is the authenticity and genuineness of the relationship, which is reflected when employees reach for their pockets, volunteer or create initiatives in aid of the charity.
Paddy Mooney, Director of Include Youth said, “Our relationship with FinTrU began as a corporate sponsorship, but very quickly grew into a corporate partnership. I cannot thank our friends at FinTrU enough for their incredible fundraising. The offer of financial assistance was very welcome and still is but it is not the only benefit that Include Youth have gained from the relationship. Our value base of the young person as central to everything we do was reinforced by FinTrU’s driven values. There has been a genuine respect for the other organisation, and it has been fun whether attending quizzes, or running 5k together, or simply eating a meal with our young people. Staff at FinTrU have given so much more than just fundraising, they have encouraged us to be an even better organisation.”
Like most of these types of partnerships, Include Youth have gained economic advantages, by way of the multitude and varied fundraising events passionately supported by FinTrU staff, in addition to the above, FinTrU have supported Include Youth through the Marathon Relay, Dress-down days, Bake Sales, and Pool Challenges. FinTrU have helped enhance their employees’ efforts by matching their donations for fundraising attempts, therefore incentivising them to support charitable events even more than they normally would have done so [iv]. The proceeds helped fund the “Fuelling Future Food Clubs”, which provides lunch to young people on the “Give & Take” programme, many of whom would not eat otherwise, whilst also teaching them valuable nutrition and cooking skills. As well as the economic benefits these activities provide, many of these fundraising initiatives, for example the 5k run and bake sales, include the young people from Include Youth as participants, boosting their confidence and social cohesion skills.
Claire Meenehan, Skills Manager at Include Youth said, “The relationship FinTrU has with Include Youth is multi-faceted, it is not just about the financial gain for Include Youth, though an important and welcomed benefit. FinTrU have taken their Corporate Social Responsibility to the highest level and offer real and genuine involvement at all levels – from staff meeting our young people, right through to CEO level. FinTrU have ‘bought in’ and invest, not only finances, but time, skills and passion. They listen to the voices of our young people and this is at the heart of what they do.”
As Claire alludes to, there is much more to the relationship between the business and the charity than the act of giving, businesses can bring uniquely valuable assets and expertise:
Signal to other funders - Their reputations often command respect, somewhat becoming imprimaturs of credibility for grantees, helping charity organisations gain exposure to an audience it would never have reached, motivating countless other potential donors to get involved, attracting greater funding and resources. For charity staff this can be a real boost to morale and an endorsement of the value that others place on their work.
Networking provides a great source of connections and opens the door to talk to some highly influential people, including customers, suppliers and other partners, who could potentially become ambassadors of the charity, advancing knowledge and practice to help them become more effective. John McComb, Service Manager at Include Youth said, “FinTrU have asked Include Youth to identify gaps within our management team which they could potentially support us with. FinTrU have helped Include Youth to have more confidence about our profile and our work, we feel lucky to be associated with such a young, vibrant company, who are genuinely interested in supporting our work.”
In some cases, they often have access to communication channels and expertise that can be used to disseminate information widely, swiftly, and persuasively, which not only leads to more money, it helps raise awareness of the cause. [v]
Benefits for the Company
If working with charities was only about that personal, feel-good emotion, fewer businesses would be doing it. It allows businesses to demonstrate their values, engage their employees and communicate with the public about how they operate. It allows staff to focus on fun and engaging fundraising activities, volunteering and awareness raising, much of which provide benefits in terms of employee bonding, morale, pride, ethical behaviour, productivity and retention rates [vi].
Studies show, that employees - particularly millennials, whose impending explosion in the workplace will represent 50% of the workforce by 2020 - now want more from their employer than a pay cheque and prefer to work for companies that practice environmental and social responsibility [vii]. This demographic is coincidently a large proportion of FinTrU’s employees. They crave a sense of pride and fulfilment from their work, and most importantly, a company whose values match their own.
Giving back to the community can therefore be crucial to recruiting talented employees, as well as maintaining the engagement and happiness of a thriving company’s existing work force. In a 2011 report by Forbes Insights, 60% of companies surveyed either strongly agreed or agreed with the statement, “Philanthropy and volunteerism are critical for recruiting younger qualified employees”. It is not surprising, then, that the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (CECP) found volunteering participation rates are on the rise (by 4% over the past year) predominantly amongst the young (23% vs 16% overall) [ii]. This is particularly true for FinTrU. With interest evident, FinTrU devised various volunteering programmes with Include Youth participants, such as conducting mock interviews, subsequently giving feedback on how they could improve their interview technique, helping them to succeed in the future, thus facilitating with their pathway to employment and personal development. This also provides employees with an opportunity to demonstrate their mentoring, leadership and organisational skills, something that they otherwise may have been unable to do. Staff from FinTrU have also been visiting the food clubs at Include Youth on a weekly basis, experiencing first-hand how their fundraising efforts make a big difference, and most importantly, getting to know the young people on a personal level.
Charity and business partnerships need to be based on shared values and mutual objectives. Each party must have an emotional stake in each other’s success and their impact should leave a valuable legacy as a result. This should be the primary motivation for the business. Ultimately, responsible business is an invaluable force for social good, with the partnership of FinTrU and Include Youth demonstrating that the “social responsibility of business” is not just to increase profits, but also to make a difference.
If you would like to find out more about the work of Include Youth, visit includeyouth.org
Mark joined FinTrU through the second Financial Services Academy in 2015, after graduating from the University of Ulster with a BSc in Business Studies with Computing. He saw FinTrU as the perfect opportunity to continue his passion for the Finance Industry.
Mark currently works as part of the Know Your Customer (KYC) Client Onboarding team for a Tier I Investment Bank. As part of this team, Mark conducts investigations to ensure compliance with internal and external regulatory requirements. He conducts independent research to gather and record data from internal systems, commercial databases, and the internet. He executes sanction and negative news checks, PEP screening and traces Ultimate Beneficial Ownership of complex ownership structures.
Mark has since been promoted to Associate within FinTrU and has continued to expand his knowledge of the financial services industry, enlisting in a FinTrU-sponsored professionally accredited qualification, having obtained the CISI Investment Operations Certificate.