Charitable Giving in Responsible Business
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When former BP Chief Executive Lord Browne, one of the earliest proponents of corporate social responsibility (CSR), declared last year that the movement was “dead”, he was not alone in his cynicism. Such has been the worrying regularity of corporate scandals that the idea of business putting purpose or society before profit had for some time been attracting a large dose of suspicion. It is somewhat surprising, therefore, that it is the emergence of more controversy – this time in the charitable sector – that has prompted a reassessment of how important the contribution of business can be to society.
Deloitte are long-standing supporters of disability sport. Since 2007, through our partnership with the British Paralympic Association (BPA), we have helped prepare hundreds of athletes for four Paralympic Games, each one inspiring young disabled people to find a sport that suits them through our Deloitte Parasport portal.
Last month I was lucky enough to be one of the 44 participants chosen to take part in a challenge of a lifetime climbing Mt. Cotopaxi, a 5,897m high ice capped active volcano in Ecuador all to raise funds and awareness for our 3 Charity Partners: Alzheimer’s Society, Mind, and Prostate Cancer UK.
Of course the instinct to protect my children comes first, but the thought of any child, anywhere, living in a rubbish dump, sickens me. I believe everyone feels this way, parents especially. I was out shopping for my son’s baby clothes and thought to myself: if I could buy beautiful baby clothes and know the profit helps children in need, why would I buy anywhere else? Because I couldn’t find a way, I set up From Babies with Love.
On 17 June, the first group of Deloitte staff set off on the challenge of a lifetime. Deloitte’s Charity Challenge 2015 sees 246 Deloitte staff, including 24 partners, undertake four challenges across four continents in an effort to raise £1 million for our charity partners Alzheimer’s Society, Mind and Prostate Cancer UK. They will be climbing Mt Kilimanjaro, Cotopaxi and Mulhacén in Spain as well as a triathlon style jungle trek, mountain bike and white water rafting activity in Borneo. This is largest fundraiser we have ever attempted!
I have been involved with this project from its inception over 2 years ago, alongside our partner sponsor and the Head of Corporate Responsibility, so I have mixed emotions now that it is all finally underway. As the Charitable Giving lead at Deloitte, I work directly with our charity partners and have developed a strong relationship with them all. I have a personal connection with two of the charities which means that my passion to raise awareness and funds is more than just about it being my job.
There’s a quiet revolution taking place in our country - the way in which we think and talk about mental health. In homes, communities and workplaces, more and more people are being open about their experiences, and there is a growing level of awareness amongst employers, civil servants and politicians that this issue affects one in four of us.
At Mind, we have been playing a vital role in working with many organisations. With the support of Business in the Community, many businesses have now signed the Time to Change pledge and hundreds of thousands of people took part in the Time to Talk Day in February. We have ambitions to turn the growing awareness of mental health into action and it is through partnerships with highly effective businesses such as Deloitte that we believe we can make the most of this rare opportunity.
There are 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK, over 40,000 of those are under the age of 65 and still of working age. With numbers set to rise, businesses have an increasing social responsibility to become more aware of dementia and help break its stigma.
Recently, Alzheimer’s Society was proud to announce that the Dementia Friends programme has reached one million people. The campaign has harnessed the energy of individuals, communities and organisations, allowing anyone to learn more about the condition, and making sure people with dementia are understood and included. As a Dementia Friends Champion myself, I have provided sessions to a range of people, including Deloitte’s Senior Leadership Team.
Prostate Cancer UK share their views on the benefits of corporate partnerships.
More than ten thousand men die of prostate cancer each year in the UK. That’s one man dying every hour of every day. And there are over a quarter of a million men living with the disease in the UK today. It’s as big an issue for men as breast cancer is for women.
The good news is that prostate cancer can often be successfully treated, if it’s diagnosed early. But there’s less good news too. The number of men identified with prostate cancer is growing fast. It’s predicted to become the most common of all cancers in the UK over the next decade or so. And while people are gradually starting to become more aware of it, too many still know dangerously little about it.
That’s why when Deloitte employees chose Prostate Cancer UK as one of its charity partners in 2013, we asked them for their support on our awareness programme - an ambitious project aiming to reach 300,000 of the most at-risk men over three years to tell them about their risk, the signs of prostate problems and what they can do if they have concerns.
Ask most businesses these days if they have a CSR policy and they’ll almost always say ‘yes’. Which is fine, I guess.
There’s an acknowledgement that business does have a responsibility to contribute to broader society, whether through charitable donations, allowing staff days off to undertake volunteer work, or whatever. Again, all fine.
Categorising corporate social responsibility as some kind of policy – a box to be ticked – for me undersells the importance of organisations with resource, talent, expertise, contacts, networks and funding being able to genuinely do some good.
One strand of Deloitte’s approach to this is the Social Innovation Pioneers programme. This invites applications from social enterprises, i.e. businesses which have social good as the key metric on their balance sheets, for a year’s worth of mentoring and business support from some of Deloitte’s senior people. The idea is that we can help them take a great idea and turn it into a great business, so they can amplify their intended benefit to society.
In recent years there has been a distinct move towards strategic corporate charity partnerships. Although there has been some debate as to exactly what this term means, it is essentially a partnership which engages both parties in more than simply employee fundraising. Strategic partnerships are about engaging different areas of both organisations to reach shared objectives.
The traditional view of corporate charity partnerships has long gone, and although we are of course grateful to those who fill our buckets and collection tins with much-needed funds, we are equally delighted to be diversifying our ways of working.
The Deloitte and Alzheimer’s Society partnership, as well as Deloitte’s relationships with MIND and Prostate Cancer UK, are embodiments of this new way of working. As the Account Manager from Alzheimer’s Society, I am delighted to be part of what is shaping up to be a true strategic partnership.