Many of us would like to combine our business lives with supporting a charity – either for personal or PR reasons. This may have been on your to do list for some time, never becoming more than an idea you vaguely think about before something more urgent takes over. If you’d like to incorporate CSR in to your daily plans, here are some top tips on how to get started as well as some inspiration from business women who already have a small business with a big heart.
Decide you are going to do it
First of all, don’t be daunted. If you want to find a way to bring social responsibility, fundraising or awareness-raising in to your business, then you will. You might be tight on time or money, but a well thought through plan will address your concerns and you’ll soon be on your way.
What’s your aim?
Think about your goal. Perhaps you want to use your charitable work as a marketing tool; a way of getting local press coverage? It may be that you simply want to give something back using your skills and experience to help others. If you can pinpoint exactly what you want to achieve, it will be easier for you to plan.
What can you give?
Decide what you can afford to give. Remember – this does not need to be money. Can you offer your time to mentor children or young adults? Does your job naturally fit with a cause, or certain way of fundraising? Could you encourage your clients or suppliers to help? Don’t discount the simpler and more obvious ideas you may have – these are often the best.
Who can you help?
Which charity would be a natural fit for your skills, abilities and interests? Is there any cause which is close to you heart? Again, think about what you are trying to achieve. If you are aiming to target local people, running an event which can get press supporting a much-loved local charity would be a good start.
Look for inspiration
If you have been inspired by someone else’s charitable work, talk to them and ask how they did it. Ask for help brainstorming ideas from friends and family.
Time to plan
You should now start to plan: combine your thoughts from answering the questions above to lay out who you are going to help and how. Remember to keep your aim in mind at all times. Set aside time during your working week to implement your plan, and revisit it every 3 months to make sure it’s still working for you.
We’ve done it – so can you!
Some inspirational women already have their CSR plans in place. They love what they do, and their charity work is just a natural fit and extension to this. Here’s what they have to say:
Rima Shah runs Calm and Clear Complementary Therapies. She uses natural health and skincare to improve general well-being and reduce stress. She also runs educational courses & workshops for practitioners, midwives and members of the public.
Rima specialises in women’s health; especially pregnancy & fertility. Charity minded since she was a child, it was natural for her to think about how she could help others when her business started doing well. She decided to concentrate on charities which are related to healthcare.
Rima regularly donates gift vouchers for raffles and auctions and donates time doing treatments where money raised goes directly to the charity. She also uses the hook of special events such as Mother’s Day or International Women’s Day to donate a percentage of all income raised during a certain period.
To date, Rima has raised money for Child in Need India UK (CINI UK), Macmillan Cancer, Leukaemia and Lymphoma research, Changing Face, NSPCC, Tommy’s, Count the Kicks and Breakthrough Breast Cancer.
In the past she has received press coverage in magazines, but her focus is helping the charity and she would do that irrespective of any benefit to her business. Rima says “Decide on a charity which is close to your heart and also has relevance to your business”.
Danielle Abramov runs a private homeopathic practice in London. Together with two colleagues (Sameena Azam and Kim Purdy) she set up a charity – The Bush Homeopaths – which provides free homeopathic treatment to needy people in Gambia, West Africa.
Danielle’s Gambian patients are generally very poor and have no access to free healthcare. She runs a mobile clinic visiting various sites by invitation. Everyone who works in these clinics is a self-funded volunteer. She will soon also start work building a clinic where local people can be trained in homeopathy.
Danielle runs Bush Homeopaths as she feels fortunate to have the time and can make the means to practice voluntarily. She says, “Commit with both heart and head before starting a charitable endeavour. Find a cause you identify with and be clear and organised as to how you can help.”
Anne Iarchy runs AI fitness, is a personal trainer and weight management coach. Over the past year she has organised a charity bootcamp, and has encouraged clients to join her in charity events. In 2013 Anne is partnering with Breakthrough Breast Cancer to raise a minimum of £1000 by organising monthly charity health related events including walks, runs, exercise classes, workshop and talks.
Anne is a big believer in helping people and causes that she feels connected to. She’d like to leave her mark on the world and give something back. She also loves her job, and says if she can get clients to be fitter and healthier as well as helping a charity then it’s the best of both worlds.
Anne aims to get PR for her events; she suggests this is easier to do if you ask the charity for PR support. She refutes the idea that resources are an issue for small businesses, but suggests doing something that you already do, and doing it to benefit a charity. Anne uses social media (Facebook and Twitter) to invite contacts to her events – she also asks the relevant charity to retweet her tweets to their followers. This is a free and easy way to get your message out.
Anne says, “Why not combine forces with a complimentary business and set up an event together?”
Secret CSR enthusiast
A final contact, who did not want to be named, makes corporate films and innovative film products as well as offering consultancy and training around video marketing. For her charitable work she offers her usual products at cost price to charities she wants to help, or for causes with whom she has a personal connection. She doesn’t want any PR for her charitable work, just to know that she is helping.
Our secret CSR friend said “Play to your talents and stick to your brand”.
How do you incorporate CSR into your enterprise? – We’d love to hear your comments!