The new responsible business network will allow local corporate organisations to share best practice and learn from each other when it comes to their CSR, social impact and charitable giving. OCF is now seeking founder members to help shape the initiative.
Following a series of successful focus groups with local businesses, OCF is collaborating with former High Sheriff Tony Stratton to create a new corporate responsibility membership programme for local businesses. The initiative will address some of the difficulties experienced by local businesses when it comes to their community engagement, including receiving a large number of ad-hoc requests for help from local charities, and not knowing where to start in giving to good causes locally.
Senior representatives from 12 different local businesses attended the focus groups, all of which were keen to give something back to their local community, but had had varying success in delivering a proactive and genuinely useful suite of activities. Several businesses wanted to explore how to give time and in-kind gifts as well as money to charity, and were keen to learn from others to avoid making expensive mistakes or embarking on overly labour-intensive projects.
In addition, some of the larger organisations attending the focus groups had a wealth of experience and enthusiasm to share, and were passionate about the significant benefits of community engagement. Sarah Foster, Managing Partner at Henmans Freeth, commented: “When we encourage volunteering we see employees come back to the office with a spring in their step, having gained a new perspective on their day job.” Meanwhile Dan Channer, Director at Finders Keepers, remarked: “Getting your charitable activity right gives you a bit of a ‘halo’ in the eyes of your customers.”
Following the focus groups, it was agreed that a network of like-minded businesses should be developed, specifically for the purposes of encouraging the sharing of ideas, pooling resources and upskilling member businesses. The network will help members save time and unnecessary expense, gain greater visibility for the community work they are doing, and take a more strategic CSR approach that really works for their business.
Tony and OCF are currently seeking founder members for the yet-to-be-named initiative, who will have a say on exactly what the network will do in the coming year, and use their contacts to build the membership. Following this, OCF will invite a comprehensive list of local business contacts to become members. If you are interested, please contact Tony directly at Tony.Stratton@uk.cpm-int.com.