Charities and commerce: a perfect partnership?

Corporate charity sponsorship brings benefits for all parties, says Just Recruitment Group Ltd Director, Peter Foy

On Sunday 6th May 2018, 10 Just Recruitment staff will line up in a draughty hangar in Beccles, Suffolk, preparing to leap into the unknown.

Once their safety briefing is over, they’ll clamber aboard an aeroplane and head into the skies above the East Anglian countryside for the adventure of their lives.

They won’t have much opportunity to enjoy the view – or not from the comfort of the aircraft’s cabin, at any rate. Because, sooner or later, they’ll shuffle to a hatch on the underside of the plane and jump out, hoping against hope their parachute opens and they descend gracefully to the earth.

On the plus side, these brave volunteers will have raised a huge amount of money for a very worthy cause. They’re participating in the sky dive as part of Just Recruitment’s corporate sponsorship of East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH). At the time of writing, the company has already raised almost £9,000 through this event and others like it.

That’s a major boost for an important local charity that delivers care and support to young people and their families. But the benefits of activities like our sky dive go beyond the much-needed funds they generate for charities such as EACH.

For example, the volunteers queuing up for the challenge will have an experience that lives with them forever. And while they’re all motivated by a desire to do their bit in supporting EACH, many of them also see this as a way of living their dreams.

That’s only to be expected, and it’s an important feature of charity fundraising in the contemporary world.

Think of the number of people on the start line of the London Marathon who were running for charity, for example. While I have no doubt that they were sincere in their desire to represent a particular cause, many of them would have struggled to secure a place without partnering a charity.

It’s the same with people who take the chance to trek to Machu Picchu or the Great Wall of China, or go to a developing country and help build a school or hospital during their gap year. These are worthwhile opportunities in their own right, bringing immeasurable satisfaction to participants. But in the majority of cases, they wouldn’t be achievable without some link to a charity.

All of which raises an interesting question: does it matter what motivates a good action, so long as the result is positive?

This can be asked at an individual and a corporate level. In the same way that the individual members of Just Recruitment staff gain the chance to experience a sky dive by raising money for EACH, so our company as a whole benefits from being associated with a worthwhile local cause.

Now, as it happens, our motivations with regard to EACH are pure. It’s a charity that the management team at Just Recruitment has long admired. We recognise that it cares for more than just the young patients receiving medical attention. It also looks after their families, ensuring they are given all the support they need at a time of unimaginable hardship.

But it hasn’t escaped our notice that supporting EACH yields other benefits, as do all such corporate charity sponsorship arrangements.

For a start, we’re giving our staff opportunities to take part in brilliant events. These aren’t just high-octane activities like the sky dive. For instance, the EACH quiz night we sponsored in February proved a real hit among our employees.

What is more, there is a reputational gain for any business that supports a charity. There is no denying that EACH receives a lot of positive media coverage, and we’re always pleased to be associated with that.

Now, in our case, all of these benefits are a welcome side effect of our sponsorship, rather than the reason for getting involved. That’s clear from the lengths we go to in providing support, including making a donation every time we place a candidate in a permanent job. If we were only in it for the benefits, we wouldn’t be going the extra mile to maximise our contribution to EACH’s wellbeing.

Which brings me back to my question. After all, some commercial organisations undoubtedly take a cruder approach to charity partnerships than ours. They weigh the costs and benefits, and offer a level of support that maximises the latter while minimising the former.

And if charities nonetheless gain from such an arrangement, who are we to criticise?

I suppose that is the nub of the issue. While we may hope that businesses are motivated by a genuine desire to do good when partnering charities, it doesn’t seem to matter too much if they aren’t. The good outcomes aren’t nullified. The money raised won’t be of any less value in helping the charity pursue its purposes.

In an age where every company pays close attention to Corporate Social Responsibility, perhaps the charity sector has a particular role to play in helping businesses do the right thing. Approach corporate partnerships in a sensible manner, and everyone wins. Yes, it’s a leap of faith – but when has that ever been a reason not to do something worthwhile? Just ask our skydivers.

© 2018 Just Recruitment Group Ltd.

Posted on Tuesday May 1