Caroline McKenna: ‘Tis the season for giving

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We asked Caroline McKenna, CEO of Social Good HQ to let us know how your organisation can make an impact in 2019.

Here are her “12 days of business giving advice”.

  1. What’s your story?  Considering what your company stands for and who you want to help is an important first step.  For example: you own a chain of independent books stores and you want to encourage more children to read. 
  2. Take a look at the global UN Sustainable Development Goals, and choose a goal to focus on for the next three years. Goal 4, Quality Education, might be a good one for our book seller. Being part of a larger movement is powerful, and recognising the small part your company plays can be motivational. Our book seller may define their purpose and vision as – We want to ensure all children in Scotland, regardless of their native language, have access to literacy support to enable them to read.

  3. Ask your team. Get them on board to share their thoughts and opinions on what they believe the organisation should stand for. Involving your staff at this stage will encourage their engagement later down the line. 
  4. Agree on the cause you would like to support and what positive changes you would like to make. Our book seller and his staff have decided they would like to support reading groups for migrant children across Scotland by providing books in their native language, in addition to English books available at school. 
  5. Reach out to organisations that match your cause.  Connect with them and complete any due diligence. Our book seller has identified a number of charities and social enterprises across Scotland that provide literacy support to children. 
  6. Just do it! You’ve got the backing of your team and your cause is ready and waiting to receive your support.  You may decide on a financial donation, or it might be practical support by giving them your time, whatever the giving activity get cracking!  Our book seller has made a financial contribution to an Aberdeen charity centre to allow it to set up a small library for its international users. 
  7. Did you know that 64%* of potential employees are more loyal to a company that contributes to society. Encourage your team to get involved. Many hands make light work – what can they do that will work towards that one social goal?  This might be organising fundraising events, or spending their time working with the organisations. Our book store’s accountant is Romanian and spends one Sunday a month reading Romanian folklore to children at a local centre. *source: Cone EE Study 
  8. Measure the impact.  It’s important to measure the impact of your work by asking the charitable organisation who has been helped, how were they helped and what difference was made as a result. How many books has our book store donated, how many hours have been spent reading to children, what do the children enjoy about the session, how has their confidence grown and how has this benefitted the parents and the wider community?  These statistics will open the door to stories – stories you can use to share your great work and the difference you have made to little lives. 
  9. The planning doesn’t stop here. Be on the lookout for ways to make a deeper impact next year.  More impact might be realised by scaling back your support to a specific location, or perhaps an individual person?  Our book seller might choose to focus on a specific neighbourhood that has inequality in its diverse communities, or maybe develops a programme to help children throughout their education by offering additional tutoring or university scholarships. These creative ideas evolve the book store’s support, aligned with its original focus. 
  10. Be loud and proud!  Communicate your impact to let people know about the good work and who you are supporting. Create an annual impact report that can be shared with staff, customers and the wider community, and maximise the PR potential of all of these great stories. Who knows, our book seller might encourage other business to get involved in this movement, give customers a choice to do business with a company that is making a difference. A recent study by CAF found that 87%* of businesses say that having a social good activity is good for their reputation – and we can’t argue with that!  
  11. This is all lovely, but what difference has your charitable giving made to your business? Measure its impact by finding out if you have more engaged staff, loyal customers, increased sales and better-quality recruitment applications? Did you know that 57%* of UK customers want businesses to be involved in solving social problems. *source: Cone study
  12. Give yourself a pat on the back – you’re doing business and you’re doing good. You don’t need to wait for Christmas as the season for giving, there are causes that need your support every day of the year.  This year our book store has put up its decorations and its staff serve their customers in the knowledge that their contribution has improved the lives of many children and their families. What will be your contribution in 2019?

Caroline McKenna is CEO of Social Good HQ. If you want a helping hand contact them at Social Good HQ.

Caroline Mckenna


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