Supporting charities is good for business

13th June 2022

Increasingly, Essex businesses are discovering the benefits of giving back locally and engaging their staff in the decision making of where their donations go.  Perry Norton, Head of Development at Essex Community Foundation (ECF), explains why companies choose to give through them:

“ECF was set up in 1996 by local businessman Ian Marks CBE DL and his wife Angela. When their family sweet making business, Trebor, was sold to Cadbury’s in 1989, Ian and Angela decided to give back to the County where their family had lived and worked for generations.

“For those new to the concept, at the community foundation we help people, companies and public agencies to give back to their local community in an effective and efficient way. You can set up your own charitable fund in the name of your business or family and we take care of all the administration, receive and assess applications from the voluntary sector, and present those to you that match your objectives.

“We currently manage 180 charitable funds on behalf of our donors and award around £5 million in grants each year to charities and voluntary groups in Essex.

“Working with us and choosing to think local when it comes to giving back has lots of advantages for businesses. You may receive letters from charities asking for a donation, but how do you know which ones to support or if the money you give will be used effectively?

“Involving your team in discussing the funding requests and in making the decisions of which ones to support, is a great way to engage them in your corporate approach. It also creates a collective understanding of local issues.

“We get around 60 applications every month from charities and community groups. We assess them and provide donors with details of the applicants needs and how much money they are requesting.  If they cannot fund the full amount, we can often top-up from other funds we manage.  This means that the organisation receives the money it needs to cover their running costs, deliver a project or buy a piece of equipment.  When they have spent the money, they tell us how it has helped them and we share this feedback with our donors.

“Businesses may simply want to raise funds during the year and then donate it to a local charity, but for those that wish to have a long-term approach to their giving, we can help them embed this value into their ethos, ensuring it is part of the company’s future.”

Rickard Luckin, the Chartered Accountants and Tax Advisers, is one Essex company working with ECF and taking this long-term approach.

Gayner Smith, Director at Rickard Luckin, said: “It just made perfect sense for us to set up the Rickard Luckin Community Fund with ECF.  We liked the idea of having our own corporate named charity through which we could give support to some of the lesser-known local voluntary groups working in areas where our offices are based, and that we didn’t even know existed.

“We wanted colleagues to be involved in deciding who we should support, but we didn’t necessarily know which local organisations would benefit most and we also needed some assistance in assessing requests.”

Since setting up the Fund, Rickard Luckin, which has offices in Basildon, Chelmsford and Southend, has given away over £21,000 in grants and raised over £53,000 in an endowed fund which is securing their support for the local community forever.

Chelmsford Star Co-op has also taken this route, having supported local charities and communities for over 150 years.  In 2021, the company decided to set up the Chelmsford Star Co-op Community Fund with ECF.

Judy Saunders, Society President said, “We are working with ECF because we want to have a deeper understanding of local charities and their needs and ensure that the money we raise and give will have the greatest impact. To help us achieve this and show our commitment to the local communities we serve, we have set up a fund which will grow over time and enable us to give support every year”.

Other businesses that have set up funds with ECF include Birketts, RSM, Teledyne e2v, Essex & Suffolk Water, Douglas Allen Estates, Mersea Homes and Objective IT.

Did you know?

It is often the larger, national charities that receive donations, but local charities make up a big proportion of the charity sector and often operate on tiny budgets; 85% of registered charities in the UK have an annual income of less than £100,000 and hundreds more community groups operate informally.

Donations made through Payroll Giving schemes and corporate donations can also benefit from tax relief.

How to give locally

To discuss how ECF can help your company to support local charities, call Perry Norton on 01245 355947 or e-mail perry@essexcf.org.uk

Read more about charitable giving through ECF here.