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Working with your local community

1. Introduction

More and more people are doing things to support their local community and they want to see that the businesses they deal with are equally involved and doing the same.

There are many ways a business can contribute to their local area and, at the same time, keep their customers happy. You can get involved by:

  • giving time
  • donating money
  • providing resources

What you do will depend on the nature of your business and the resources you have available. Whatever you choose to do, getting involved with your community is positive for business:

  • improving your public image and reputation, as well as building trust and understanding
  • raising local awareness of your business and attracting new customers
  • boosting morale and increasing employee satisfaction and motivation
  • helping employees develop additional skills such as creative thinking, problem solving and project management skills
  • improving staff recruitment and retention

2. Getting involved in your local community

Start by looking at your local community and identifying where you can ‘make a difference’. Talk to local community organisations and ask them about the challenges they are facing and the type of help they need. 

Here are 2 simple ways to start to get involved: 

  • Make a monetary donation. Allocate either a percentage of profits or a specific amount each month to your chosen community group or charity. This kind of help is very easy to offer and allows the beneficiary to spend the money in a way that best suits their needs.
  • Hold fundraising events or sponsored challenges. As well as raising funds, this is a great way to get your employees involved. It’s also a good PR opportunity.

Other ways to get involved can require more commitment but provide employees with hands-on opportunities to help others:

  • Sponsor an event or a local team.
  • Work with local schools - giving talks or offering work experience.
  • Get involved in a local campaign.
  • Offer employment to disadvantaged groups.
  • Provide excess materials or outdated equipment to schools, charities or community groups.
  • Offer company facilities, such as photocopier or meeting rooms, to charities or community groups.
  • Offer your products or services to the community free of charge or with a ‘local’ discount.
  • Introduce a Give As You Earn scheme – this enables employees to make donations to any UK charity direct from their gross salary. You can also match your employee’s contributions with Matched Giving.
  • Encourage employees to volunteer – find out about the Give & Gain Day, the UK’s only national day of employee volunteering.

Think of community involvement as part of your business ethos and build it into your marketing strategy. A well thought-out investment can bring long-term benefits to both the community and your business. 

Read about community investment on the Business in the Community website.

 

3. Volunteering in the community

Employee volunteering is all about encouraging employees to volunteer and providing them with time off for their volunteering activities. Not only is this an effective and powerful way for businesses to invest in their people and local communities, it also provides real benefits to the volunteers and the community organisations they support.

Employees have the opportunity to give something back to their local community, whilst using and developing their skills. They often learn new skills too, particularly in areas such as time management, communication, influencing, decision-making and leadership skills and bring these back to the workplace.

Here’s how to get involved:

  • find local causes or charities that could use your skills
  • discuss volunteering with your employees and encourage them to get involved
  • give them time off to volunteer
  • recognise skills developed in appraisals
  • publicise the activities

4. Working with charities

Donating to a worthy local cause can benefit the givers as much as the receivers. When done strategically, charitable giving is good for business – both for the potential tax deductions and the goodwill within the local community.

When choosing a charity to support:

  • look for a local charity that relates to your business
  • involve your employees and find out which charities or causes they are passionate about
  • look for charities that will give you meaningful exposure
  • make sure the charity you choose is a legitimate charity by checking the Charities Commission website

Before you start working in partnership with an organisation:

  • Make sure you do some research on your potential partners - do their values match those of your business?
  • Be clear about
    • your business objectives for the partnership.
    • the expected outcomes of the partnership for both the charity and your business.
  • Have an idea of the timing and lifespan for the partnership.
  • Formalise arrangements in an agreement, and include minimum expectations, the levels and types of activity to be undertaken and how the partnership is to be evaluated.

For further information visit

5. Publicising your charity involvement

When publicising your involvement with a charity or in the local community:

  • include charity events in company newsletters, on social media and in marketing materials
  • write blog posts about your involvement and highlight how others can help
  • use word of mouth to tell family and friends about your involvement
  • include a link to the charity website on your company website
  • ask the charity to include your business name in their marketing materials

Many employee surveys show that staff take pride in their participation and value their company’s charitable activities. The same is true for customers. When they feel good about a business, they are more likely to spread the word to their family and friends.

Getting involved with your local community or giving to a worthy cause makes good business sense. Make it part of your business strategy and you’ll soon see the benefits.

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