Financial donations can be an enormous support to local organisations, but often other kinds of support are just as valuable. SevernNet encourages businesses to “think outside of the box” when deciding how they can help, especially where direct financial support is not possible.
- Board membership: Many organisations would benefit from trustees who have experience of finance, business planning, marketing, management, strategy, law, legislation and so on. This can be a powerful way to make a difference, and an opportunity for staff members to develop their skills and confidence. Many voluntary organisations in the area are managed by trustees who are themselves members of the community. Their local knowledge and your business skills could make a strong partnership.
- Volunteer time: Staff members can lend a hand in many different areas. It can be a great team building activity and a good morale booster. Organisations might need skills such as maintenance or building improvement, or help to run an event or activity. One off input can be just as vital as ongoing support.
- Knowledge sharing: If there is specialist knowledge within your business, then providing information and guidance to organisations can be a real asset to them. Often a quick chat on the phone can provide valuable support, and a business perspective often helps organisations to learn, develop and survive.
- Resources: If you are upgrading equipment or furniture, or have unwanted resources, they may make a welcome addition to a community group who can put them to good use.
These are just a few ideas – by thinking flexibly and creatively there are lots of ways to engage with the community. There are lots of benefits too… supporting the local community sends a powerful message to your employees (who may live locally), customers and stakeholders, and positively raises the profile of your business. It also provides opportunities for staff to enhance their skills, knowledge and confidence and to bring this back into your business. With a little thought, community engagement is a win-win situation!
If you would like to discuss how your business could engage with the local community, contact Alv Hirst, SevernNet Community Champion: firstname.lastname@example.org
A SevernNet Community Engagement Group has also been set up and is meeting on a quarterly basis. If you would like to participate in this group please contact Alv (see above).