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2018 was a big year for Corporate Social Responsibility. Widely reported as being highly valuable for companies and their community.

A clear commitment to the environment and people, and being seen to be a responsible business is very attractive to both existing and potential customers, not forgetting top talent. Employees like working for a company that has a good public image and customers like to reward them with their loyalty. This is why the emphasis of investing both financially and emotionally in CSR is set to continue into 2019.  

Businesses shouldn’t see CSR as optional, nor should businesses be taking part in CSR for the sake of ticking boxes. Authenticity is key. Your customer is savvy and will recognise a halfhearted approach. Brands seen to be only acting in their own self-interest can generate negative attention. New technologies such as social media have resulted in people being able to express their concerns about what they consider bad business to a wide-reaching audience, quickly, and can have a detrimental impact on a brand's reputation.

Employees are also demanding more from workplaces. They’re looking to develop and build on their skills, develop social networks and feel that they’ve contributed to the wider society. Great employees may seek to find an engaging CSR programme elsewhere if they feel yours is lacking.

So, how do you ensure that you have a company culture and CSR programme that actually brings value to you, your team and your community? Incorporating team training with charity and community work is the perfect solution. NPC’s research ‘Charities taking charge’ revealed that over the next three years, 41% of charities surveyed expect to be partnering more with private sector organisations.

Companies can get involved with charities in two key ways, volunteering and fundraising. Both these activities have huge potential to create valuable staff training and development opportunities.

Volunteering

Volunteering is the perfect way to encourage staff to communicate with different audiences and is a great way to build confidence and independence. Working together for a shared cause in a varied type of activities will encourage creativity. This is great news, employers have identified creativity as one of the most important leadership qualities that an employee can possess.

Volunteering is a way for teams to collaborate and develop their skill set, this can be anything from helping to decorate a community centre to leading creative writing workshops at a children's centre or providing free legal advice. Different members of the team can lead and share skills they wouldn’t usually get to use in the day to day office space.  

Increasingly businesses are working at a deeper, more collaborative level. When employees contribute their time and money to worthy causes, they develop professionally and personally. The Institute of Fundraising and Good Values, ‘Corporate Fundraising: A snapshot of current practice in the UK non-profit sector’, suggests that charities prefer skilled volunteering on an ongoing basis.

Volunteering may sound far removed from the development of skills required as part of a successful team training program. People often envisage their volunteering as a hands-on experience which takes them away from their day job. But the most valuable skills that are required by volunteers are most likely to be closely linked to their profession—accountants are more valuable as accountants than as decorators. This type of work is often considered less fun than volunteering, and many charities have yet to develop an offering that corporate volunteers find as attractive. So, being creative and allowing your team to develop their skills in a completely different context and take part in training that has a direct positive impact for them and others will be an extremely rewarding experience.

Deloitte and Depaul UK have worked together on a project to aggregate the charity’s homelessness data, to create a heat map of provision for people experiencing homelessness.

The Money House programme delivers financial training to 16-25-year-olds leaving the care system, those in sheltered housing and young offenders, with the aim of ‘arming them with the skills to live independently’.

So, what does your team do well? What would you like your team to do better? How could you develop your team's skills in a creative and interesting way whilst providing valuable skills to your community? The possibilities are endless.  

Fundraising

Volunteering and skill-sharing is a vital source of support for a charity to continue to do the amazing work they do, but raising funds is a crucial element of how companies can really help charities.  

Fundraising is no easy feat and requires careful planning, ideas generation and coordination, which makes it perfect for incorporating into team development and training tasks. The WaterAid signature employee development programme is specifically designed for business owners and their colleagues to compete with teams from across the world and solve a real challenge from their ongoing projects.

Third Sector suggests that companies are moving away from one-off donations towards more long-term strategic partnerships. Businesses are choosing to invest in organisation and projects where there’s a clear fit with their company. Companies are looking to use a range of their assets to make a social difference preferring partnerships that are closely aligned with business objectives and really measuring their long term impact.

Fundraising can be done in all sorts of ways from share giving, planning your own fundraising or sponsored event to community campaigning and helping with funding applications. Your team members could even develop their skills in the language of persuasion from an accomplished fundraising professional. As individuals you partner with bring in new perceptions and expertise, they’ll contribute to your evolving workplace and encourage your business and team to grow and prosper.

The process of sharing ideas and developing leadership qualities to achieve a shared goal can be a fun learning experience that helps develop creative and critical thinking and deepen positive relationships within your team – all whilst raising the profile of your company.

Make a list of charities that you feel share your company beliefs and aspirations. What are you and your team passionate about? Invest time in understanding what your organisation can offer and gain a better understanding of how you can help each other.  

Book a training room and invite your charity partner to meet you and your team and start learning together.

If you’re a busy HR Manager, PA or training coordinator we’re perfectly positioned to help you find your perfect and unique training venues for your needs whether you’re organising a one-off event or complex training schedules.

Organising a charity event? Take a look at our checklist to help you ensure your event is as successful as it can be.

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