The Oxford Times has just published its quarterly Business Barometer – the results of a survey of local business decision-makers. This issue focuses on how businesses engage with community and charitable organisations, with results suggesting that the corporate sector has a lot to give if charities can find more sophisticated ways to approach them.
The Business Barometer, which is sponsored by Withy King and Allen Associates, reveals that of those businesses that took part in the survey, 60 per cent would like charities to approach them with requests for help in a more strategic and joined-up way. With more than one third of survey respondents receiving at least one approach from a charitable organisation every fortnight, some local companies report feeling overwhelmed with ad-hoc requests.
At the same time, the survey confirmed findings from OCF’s corporate focus groups that most businesses do not have a clear strategy for dealing with approaches, and only 16% of those surveyed had a clear Corporate Social Responsibility Strategy. Local businessman Tony Stratton comments in the Barometer: “The evidence suggests that many firms in Oxfordshire have an appetite to make a greater contribution to local communities, but have neither the time nor resources to do so. At the same time, there are many larger organisations in the county with rich experience and great passion to share.”
As a result, Tony is now working with Oxfordshire Community Foundation to launch a responsible business initiative for Oxfordshire that connects together those with experience to share and those who want to do more. The initiative will facilitate mutual exchange and help businesses pool their resources to make a bigger impact on the community they operate within. It will also help businesses avoid expensive mistakes by learning from others, saying a ‘positive no’ to ad hoc requests, saving time and effort by pooling resources and piggybacking on each other’s activities. Businesses will gain greater visibility for the good work they are already doing and the means to develop a CSR policy that really works for them.
OCF’s CEO Jayne Woodley comments in the Barometer: “OCF has the local expertise to encourage really productive and long-term collaborations between businesses and the charitable sector. We see this new organisation as giving business leaders the head space and inspiration to develop an approach to charitable giving that is less ad hoc, and instead more proactive and meaningful for them and their staff.
“There is a huge sense of goodwill in the business community, and I am excited to see a mechanism being developed that will help translate that goodwill into even greater benefit for the communities that need it the most.”
The Business Barometer, which is a supplement in the Oxford Times In Business Magazine, also includes articles about the pros and cons of the ‘Charity of the Year’ approach, and the HR advantages for business of engaging with the local community.