Beyond Charitable Giving

February 01, 1993

Beyond Charitable Giving

February 01 1993

by Mike Tuffrey

Per Cent Club issues its annual report with a study about benefits ‘beyond charitable giving’.

Founded in December 1986 at the instigation of HRH The Prince of Wales, the Per Cent Club has just published its sixth annual report

Beyond charitable giving

Corporate community involvement is holding up well in the recession, according to the annual report of the Per Cent Club, published on December 15. New research, conducted by the management consultants, Bain & Co, shows that the more companies operate community involvement as an integral part of their business, the greater the impact on the community and the more the company itself benefits. The Bain survey is based on 230 returns from among Britain’s top 500 businesses. The main findings show:

companies with a formal policy are more successful, yet only 26% had a formal board policy for involvement, with a further 28% having an “informal” policy

three of the four most commonly cited business benefits relate to employees, such as morale, employer image and staff retention

education and training is the most common policy objective, followed by environment and economic regeneration

HRH The Prince of Wales gave the keynote address to the AGM and practical examples of activity were given by Amersham International, Ladbroke Group and Boots. Membership of the Per Cent Club is open to any company committed to contributing to the community no less than 0.5% of pre-tax UK profits, or 1% of dividends. Per Cent Clubs also operate in Sheffield, the north east of England and Scotland. Contact Jeremy Lunn,Per Cent Club, on 071 253 3716 or Crawford Giles, Bain, on 071 723 0208

More than eight in ten members of the public think that a company which supports society and the community is probably a good company to work for, according to figures release in January by MORI, the opinion and market research company. Nearly half think companies have an equal responsibility to compete and to help society, and three quarters say they would be more inclined to buy the products of a company that supports the community than one that does not. 1,846 individuals were sampled in the autumn of 1992. A similar survey was conducted in 1991 and there have been no significant shifts in public opinion during the interval. Contact John Leaman, MORI, on 071 928 5955

A new network of practitioners, researchers, academics and consultants had an inaugural meeting on December 8, to form a Research Forum which will promote, support and disseminate research into corporate community involvement. Administered by Business in the Community, it will meet three times a year, with membership is open to anyone with an interest in CCI research. High on the list of priorities is evaluation and quantification of business benefits. Among companies involved are Shell UK, NatWest, Whitbread and IBM UK. Community Affairs Briefing’s Editor, Mike Tuffrey, is also a member. Contact Pene Clarkson, BITC, on 071 629 1600

Professional guidance is being offered free of charge to community and voluntary organisations who would otherwise not be able to afford them. Launched in London last year, local Professional Firms Groups are now being established, with a West Yorkshire group announced on January 22 and one in South Humberside launched on February 3. Support has come from Leeds and Bradford City Action Team and insurance brokers Willis Corroon. Contact Bill Feinstein, BITC, on 071 629 1600

Over 100 business leaders took part in 16 Seeing is Believing visits during 1992, leading to a number of new initiatives by business in local communities. On December 10, those who took part in the visits reported their experiences to HRH The Prince of Wales. A report on the visits has been published by Business in the Community which organises the programme. Contact Tracey English on 071 629 1600

Entries for the 1993 Dragon Awards were called for at a launch event hosted by News International on January 27. The Awards recognise London-based companies which make a contribution to their communities. Organised on behalf of the Lord Mayor of London and the Corporation of London by BITC, this year the scheme is being run in association with the radio station, LBC Newstalk. The closing date in March 31. Contact Tracey English on 071 629 1600


The Bain Report “Beyond Charitable Giving” for the Per Cent Club makes fascinating reading. It sought evidence about how leading companies treat community involvement – still just altruism, a vague sense of obligation – part of a business’s mainstream activities? The results were mixed. Only 27% of companies said they link community programmes to specific business objectives, but on further questioning most admitted they do have objectives beyond simply helping the community. Being seen as a “caring” employer or a “responsible” business were most often cited.

So Bain tried to test whether having a formal board policy, setting targets, linking programmes to business objectives, etc, actually led to a more successful outcome, as measured by achieving “better than expected” results. The answer was YES by quite large margins, but it is a pretty rudimentary measure and very subjective. Getting better evidence of the real and quantifiable benefits of a community involvement programme is top of the list of priorities of the newly-formed and most welcome Research Forum. Now one or two far-sighted companies must put some resources behind the research. Any takers?

Corporate Citizenship Briefing, issue no: 8 – February, 1993