Government’s drive for social value has created new company collaboration opportunities for charities, social enterprises and local initiatives.
The private sector is increasingly investing in environmental and social value for ESG requirements, employee engagement and building a sustainable legacy. Social value is an umbrella concept for social, economic and environmental value, and since 2021 it has been mandatory for companies bidding for UK Government tenders to deliver social value during the contract period (PPN 06/20). This presents a vast opportunity for the charity and social enterprise sector to partner with companies across the country, as social value now has to be contract specific, and locally relevant. This in practice means that each contract which companies bid for, has to have a unique social value plan, including local community engagement. Charities, social enterprises and other voluntary groups are subject matter experts in various social and environmental challenges, and great partners for companies to deliver locally relevant social value projects according to the Government’s criteria.
Here are 5 tips for charitable organisations to utilise this opportunity to get new company supporters:
All companies doing work or selling goods to local authorities and central government are now looking for collaboration ideas in the geographical area where the contract work takes place. Public contractor names are public information and charitable organisations can easily find the names of companies who are main contractors e.g. in local council areas. Contacting these companies with informative material and ideas of how to partner might open avenues to new types of partnerships.
2. Be specific
It is good to be innovative when creating collaboration models with companies. In addition to monetary donations, companies are looking for meaningful volunteering opportunities, along with donating their services/products and in some cases they are also looking to buy products and services from charities and social enterprises. Companies who are committing to support a charity for government contract reasons, are looking for tangible support packages and projects, which have pre-agreed collaboration plans. Charitable organisations should think of all the various kinds of goods, services and skills they are usually buying or what could help them develop their projects further, and have these presented as a ‘resource request’.
3. Plan efficiently
Planning and coordinating volunteering is the key to success when collaborating with companies. It is good to have different kinds of volunteering opportunities available, if suitable for the purpose of your organisation. One off, longer term or team volunteering opportunities are all options for different projects that might need a bundle of skills e.g. updating your websites or renovating the space a charity operates in. Being responsive and having processes in place to host volunteers is important, so the coordination is efficient and does not eat up too much time from the beneficiary work. When a c has a clear vision of what kind of volunteers they need and what they wish to achieve with them, it is also easier to say no to volunteering offers that are actually not needed.
Reporting on the outcomes and impact of social and environmental work is hugely important. Companies need to report to their clients, their employees, and other stakeholders about the projects they support. Keeping this in mind, charitable initiatives should have a suitable impact measurement system in place, which goes beyond defining the ‘outputs’ (the reach or delivery in numbers). This does not mean that the monitoring system has to be complex or costly, but the beneficiary benefits and feedback should be collected on a regular basis, so that there is some evidence of the difference being made. Also, the format of reporting should be standardised for efficiency purposes, so that this does not eat too much charity time when reporting is requested.
5. Harness Technology
Harnessing tech for the whole process of finding and matching with companies, presenting the charity work in a coherent manner, coordination of collaboration and reporting is essential. Digital presence is vital nowadays, and companies are looking to work with organisations that can be reached easily, and who communicate in an efficient manner. There are a vast number of free and low cost digital tools that charities can utilise to save money and time from searching for supporters and unnecessary admin.
Tiia Sammallahti, CEO
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