The pandemic revealed both a) the vital role of community and b) the expectation on business to be a force for good. These two come together when businesses can connect with communities and support them to make positive waves, locally.
All over the UK, community groups urgently need help to tackle serious local problems. Meanwhile, businesses want to make a difference, but don’t know how. And even though businesses are already giving £2.7bn to charities in England and Wales each year, grassroots groups receive only 2% of this, with most going to bigger charity brands.
While dependence on these grassroots groups grew during the pandemic, many of them faced diminishing funds as lockdowns hampered fundraising efforts. To compound the financial squeeze, the majority of covid response grants were only made available to registered charities.
So, while businesses were struggling to find meaningful ways to contribute to their communities, communities were struggling to find financial support.
This terrible backdrop created the ideal environment for ActionFunder to step in and build a bridge between business and community. Our match-making site is simple. You tell us the type of community action you’d like to support and where. We match you with local projects that fit the bill. Then you celebrate the impact you’ve made together.
Our ActionFunder Co-Founder, Mark Shearer, describes the platform as a value exchange:
Most community projects only need a few hundred or a few thousand pounds to create an extraordinary impact. By building an efficient and effective bridge we’ve minimised the cost of giving and the time it takes to make money available. Companies can deliver on their environmental and social commitments, without specialist in-house resource. And communities get the funding they need to achieve their goals. This then becomes a mutually rewarding relationship.
Sir Robert McAlpine, one of the UK’s largest building and civil engineering groups, has already backed 41 projects through ActionFunder in communities near its construction sites across the country. As Group Director Marketing & Communications Lynda Thwaite explains, “giving back to the communities in which we build is central to living by our values as a family business.”
Oxford Mutual Aid is one group that’s already benefited from Sir Robert McAlpine’s Strong Foundations Grant. Their dedicated team provides food and baby supplies to families on low incomes, people living with disabilities, and those experiencing homelessness. Muireann Meehan Speed, OMA’s Committee Coordinator, believes that in terms of impact, community groups offer incredible value for money: “We can make a huge difference to 2000 people with £10000 a month. So even £1000 can have a massive impact.
It all makes perfect sense. So what’s stopped businesses and community groups from coming together in the past? Lynda says that before ActionFunder, Sir Robert McAlpine had no way to make meaningful connections with the local community: “Finding ways to give back isn’t anyone’s full time job. We don’t have the resources to assess the risks of unsolicited emails or calls from local groups. There was no due diligence process, and it was just too time consuming. Backing big charities or one-off events was our default as it was far easier.”
Muireann adds that businesses with a social conscience are very receptive to what they’re doing, but as a small group getting them to engage in the first place is the main challenge. “People are just too busy to talk to us. From our side, there aren’t enough hours in the day. Sometimes you have to make a hard choice between doing your work on the ground and finding funders that ensure you’re sustainable.”
Where there’s a will…
Clearly, the will to work together was there on both sides. ActionFunder provides the way.
According to Lynda, the impact has been nothing less than phenomenal: “ActionFunder does all the vetting for us, so we know we’re getting involved with great projects, with no risk and at high impact. Now we can connect to people, do good and get commercially usable impact reports, which help clients understand how we are helping real people. There’s also an employee engagement benefit.
I’ve never seen anything instil more pride and connect our people to who we are as a business than our work with ActionFunder.
Traditionally, corporate giving sees a business donate a packet of money to a big charity or create a fund for smaller charities to apply to. On ActionFunder, charitable initiatives across the UK are upload projects that they need funding for and are matched with the funder that’s most relevant to them. It’s a levelling of the playing field between the corporate and the community.
Muireann at Oxford Mutual Aid says that the simple, video format of pitching for funds on ActionFunder has transformed the way they connect with businesses. “It gives us a human face, that’s so much faster and more impactful than an email or a cold call. You can communicate your project in ways other channels won’t let you. You can connect with businesses you’d never otherwise reach. It does the hard work in terms of vetting. And you only have to do it once. So now we can redirect all those resources to our day-to-day work of providing essential food and products to local people. It’s a very good thing, so get on it!”
It only takes a moment to make a difference. So why not join us today? It’s as easy as signing up to ActionFunder.