It's Responsible Business Week and a perfect opportunity to reflect on the growth of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programmes. CSR policies have now become a staple for business strategies of many SMEs, not just multinationals. But are they merely a high-profile marketing initiative or is there real substance and impact in businesses doing social good?
As CEO of In Kind Direct, founded by HRH The Prince of Wales to make it easy for companies to donate their surplus products for charities, I work with our donor companies day in, day out. I have experienced first-hand the growing importance for businesses to not just be seen as responsible, but to reap the benefits and gratification of operating in a genuinely responsible way. While some might still be building their strategies primarily to improve their image in the media and appeal to environmentally and socially aware customers, most businesses have now realised that acting responsibly puts a virtuous circle in motion with beneficial effects felt across their entire value chain.
Responsible businesses attract and retain resourceful and productive millennials. They inspire suppliers and contractors to improve their operating standards and appeal to investors. Their practices create a climate of trust, innovation and a sense of belonging in the community which has the effect of attracting customers and boosting their brand reputation. In Kind Direct's warehouse volunteering scheme is a simple example of how hands-on experience of supporting a charity can boost employee engagement and productivity. We challenge teams from our donor companies to get out of their offices and literally get their hands dirty doing some work which directly helps people in need. Volunteers sort product donations and prepare deliveries for our charity beneficiaries. It's fun, rewarding and many teams return time and again.
With sustainability and social programmes multiplying and £150 million worth of products donated to In Kind Direct since 1997, our donor companies have long understood the power of responsible business. Every time they donate their surplus products to In Kind Direct, they are not just diverting usable surplus products from landfill; they are releasing extraordinary social value by making their essential products accessible to those who may otherwise go without.
One of the almost 8,000 UK charities In Kind Direct has supported is Dostiyo Asian Women and Girls Organisation, a small charity based in Northampton which overcomes barriers of language, culture, racial prejudice and isolation through empowerment. Dostiyo's service users are given a wide range of In Kind Direct goods from toiletries and make-up to clothing and household products. One of the charity's beneficiaries, a victim of domestic violence, recently received a toiletry gift bag and said, as the tears ran down her cheeks, that she had never before in her life received a gift. This goes to show how everyday products that we take for granted can change a person's life. Receiving products from In Kind Direct enables Dostiyo to save on operational costs and reach more women to help them rebuild their lives.
Through In Kind Direct our donors can support Dostiyo and thousands of other grassroots charities working across a huge range of causes from women's or homeless shelters, care homes to children's charities, disabled groups and many more. By helping local communities to become stronger, healthier and happier, our donors are not only giving back, they contribute to their own success.
In Kind Direct is an enabler. We ensure companies' surplus products reach those who need them most. We enable charities to make considerable savings, improve and enhance their services and relieve hardship by bringing dignity and self-respect to their beneficiaries. We provide companies with a practical opportunity to focus and extend their responsible business action and generate measurable and tangible impact with their stakeholders, their employees and the environment.
We welcome more companies to build product donations into their everyday business practices. We do all the work to ensure millions of people can benefit every year. To find out more, get in touch today: visit inkinddirect.org, call us on 0300 3020 200 or Email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.