Ron highlights the sound business sense behind giving back

Giving anything to a worthy cause is always best done because it’s the ‘right thing to do’ – but research has shown that when companies donate to help others, they can be change makers for good in their own businesses too, as our giving back blogger Ron Banks discovers over breakfast, when he learns about National Philanthropy Day…

“Look at this,” said Ron from behind his newspaper, his breakfast coffee and croissant laid out on the table in front of him. “Giving back to society makes sound business sense, and here’s the research to prove it.”

His wife Lorna looked up from her own breakfast. “Ooh look, a talking newspaper,” she said. “No need to be like that,” said Ron, folding down the top of the paper just far enough for the top of his head and his eyes to become visible over it.

“I wasn’t being like anything,” said Lorna. “I was just observing that this morning is just like any other morning. I see more of the newspaper than I do of you until your breakfast kicks in.”

Ron wrestled with the paper until he’d folded it into a manageable square, with the article he’d been reading clearly visible on top, and put it on the table.

“Now look at you,” said Lorna. “Have you eaten any of that croissant? It looks as though most of it is stuck to your clothes, judging from the crumbs. When I said ‘get it down you’, I meant on the inside…”

Ron brushed ineffectively at his clothes with one hand, jabbing a finger of the other at his newspaper. “They’re always a bit flaky; but listen. There’s been a survey about companies giving part of their profits to good causes, like ExpenseOnDemand does. The result is that, apparently, more people would choose to do business with companies like that. According to the results, 20% of people would pick a company that does fundraising like that over one that didn’t – and almost as many would recommend the company to friends and family.”

“And how many people did they ask? Was it just a handful in the office,” Lorna wanted to know.

“Now it’s my turn to say ‘don’t be like that’. No, they asked more than 2,000 adults. That sounds to me like a reasonable number to get a credible response. And almost half of those would have a more positive opinion of the company too.

“Listen to this.” Ron cleared his throat and sipped some coffee before putting on his news anchor voice to read from the paper: The research also found donating a percentage of profits isn’t the only option for businesses, with 41% of those surveyed believing businesses should be doing more for charity as a whole.

“Offering pro-bono services that map back to the business’ specific area of expertise came out on top with 25% of respondents wanting to see more of this. Donating more of their profits followed with 24% and upskilling members of the community 21%.

“UK businesses are already doing excellent work for the third sector, and the government’s tax relief incentives are certainly a step in the right direction. However, what these results show is there is public appetite for more, both morally and legally,” said Greg Secker, founder of the Greg Secker Foundation. (“They’re the people who organised the survey,” said Ron, before going back to news anchor mode).

“Time and time again we see the benefits a thorough corporate social responsibility programme offers businesses, with the figures here speaking for themselves. By simply donating a small percentage of annual profits to charity, businesses are able to increase brand loyalty, positively shift perceptions, and increase their potential customer pool, all the while helping a good cause. We would just like to encourage businesses to keep the third sector in mind because helping out is good for business.”

“Those are all spin-off business benefits from giving back to society. I can’t see a downside to that at all – except perhaps that it’s National Philanthropy Day.”

“Why should that be a bad thing?” Lorna wanted to know.

“Because doing anything for just one day isn’t going to have any lasting effect,” said Ron. “It’s like losing weight, you have to change your lifestyle to have a lasting effect. No-one argues with that, and this is just the same. To be effective with changes, makes businesses have to change their business style, and that’s for ever, not just for one day.

“ExpenseOnDemand has done it – and apart from anything else, there are some people around the world whose lives are better because of it. Is there a chance of another coffee?” he added, holding up his empty cup and raising his eyebrows.

“Help yourself,” said Lorna. “Coffee’s in the cupboard, milk’s in the fridge, and the kettle’s over there. Don’t make one for me though; I’m going to read the paper,” she said, picking it up and popping it under her arm before Ron could think of a reply…