How non-profit giving fits into the world of ESG


ESG is all about the actions companies take to have a positive influence in the world – and we believe non-profit giving sits firmly within every successful ESG strategy. ESG covers three main factors that companies can work on — Environmental, Social, and Governance.

Covering every element of ESG is a tall order. And a lot of work goes into designing ESG programs that will create real, meaningful impact through:

  • Reducing carbon footprints
  • Cleaning up supply chains
  • Diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives
  • Fairtrade policies
  • Community volunteering
  • Non-profit giving
  • And so much more

Why giving to local non-profits is the smart choice

1. It’s good for business

Non-profit giving is one of the easiest ways for companies to make a measurable impact across ESG. Giving programs help businesses: 

  • Improve business reputation
  • Create positive PR opportunities
  • Inspire a sense of purpose in the team
  • Actively demonstrate brand and corporate values

2. Local non-profits make a particularly big impact

So, giving to local non-profits is good for business. And it’s good for local communities too. Because when you fund small-scale organisations embedded in local communities, you can have a big and measurable impact.

 We love this excerpt from the Community Action Report.

“We rely on community groups for vital social & environmental action in villages, towns & cities across the UK. These informal, grassroots groups provide frontline solutions to the societal challenges that we face. By collaborating with community groups, stakeholders can achieve mutual aims of positive impact.”

Giving to local non-profits lets you:

  • Target your giving very specifically. You can use a tool like ActionFunder to identify cause-specific community groups down to the zip code level. 
  • Better track impact. When you give to local organisations, it’s easier proactively follow the outcomes of projects and impact of your funds. 
  • Boost brand value with local groups. By building relationships with influential grassroots organisations and leaders, you enhance your brand reputation in your local community. This can make it loads easier to gain local support for future business initiatives. 

Local community groups also play a big role in creating thriving local economies. And when your community thrives, everyone thrives. 

No one is better positioned to meet the needs of your local community than community groups. Think about it:

  • Community groups intimately understand the most immediate needs of folks in your area. 
  • They’ve already built trust with community members. 
  • They respond quickly in the event of crises. 
  • And they can get a whole lot done on shoestring budgets. 
Semble Community Action Report_Autumn 2020

These groups are prepared to do the work that needs to be done. Yet 89% of community non-profits say they need financial support. Businesses are in a great position to fund these groups. The mutual benefit is very worthwhile.

Seven ESG strategy examples to inspire your non-profit giving program

Great giving campaigns are a joy to see in action. They lift our spirits and give us hope. Plus, they leave a trail that other companies can follow on their quest to make a difference. 

Let’s look at a few real-life ESG strategy examples from brands we all know and love including Carling, KIND, Sir Robert McAlpine, Starbucks, and Greene King. 

1. Carling + Made Local

Carling Made Local

When Britain’s top beer brand Carling wanted to rebrand as the “made local” beer from Burton-on-Trent, their strategy was all about elevating the local community. 

Campaign Highlights

  • Carling set out to tell the stories of Burton-on-Trent locals who’ve made important contributions to their communities
  • They produced a multi-media campaign to help break regional stereotypes 
  • They also established a Made Local Fund to finance community ventures

See media coverage.

2. KIND + Campaign Against Living Miserable (CALM)

Kind Calm campaign

Nutritious snack company KIND partnered with suicide prevention group CALM to raise awareness about the role that kindness plays in our mental health. 

Campaign Highlights

  • Commitment to raising £50,000 by donating 5p from every Dark Chocolate Nuts & Sea Salt bar
  • Partnered with mental health ambassador, Dr. Alex George, to raise awareness about the importance of kindness
  • Spread personalised digital messages of kindness across the UK

Check out more details. 

3. Sir Robert McAlpine + Strong Foundations Grant

Sir Robert McAlpine - Strong Foundations

The Strong Foundations Grant provides funding and support to groups that are driving positive change in the local communities around Sir Robert McAlpine’s construction sites. 

Campaign Highlights

  • 20 grants awarded since the foundation started in February 2020
  • 94 projects funded including community gardens, youth clubs, and mental health groups
  • More than £200,000 given to date

See the impact on ActionFunder.

4. Starbucks + Summer of Giving

Summer of Giving

Local giving is important to Starbucks. For their Summer of Giving campaign, 40 stores across Britain each selected a local community group to receive £1,000 as the first donation in a long-term partnership.

Campaign Highlights

  • Steps to Hope SCIO: a group in Edinburg that supports people who are unhoused or struggling with substance abuse disorder
  • Grace House: a respite care facility in Sunderland for young people with disabilities 
  • Croydon Animal Samaritans: an animal rescue center in South Croydon that provides veterinary care and shelter to homeless animals

Learn more about the campaign.

5. Greene King + Proud to Pitch In 

Greene King PTPI

Greene King launched its Proud to Pitch In fund in November 2021, with a commitment to donate up to £500,000 to local grassroots sports clubs across the UK. 

Campaign Highlights

  • Donate 1p for every pint sold
  • They’ve already donated over £500,000 as of July 2023
  • 131 clubs have received grants of up to £4,000 so far

Read more about the campaign.

6. Cafédirect + Producers Direct

Cafe Direct Impact

Fairtrade coffee provider Cafédirect brings its mission to life through a long-term partnership with Producers Direct, a non-profit led by small farmers. 

Campaign Highlights

  • The company donates 50% of its profits
  • Improves sustainability and protects the livelihoods of its farmers
  • Results in a 50% increase in farmers’ incomes

Learn more about their impact.

7. Baukjen + Black Friday Boycott

Baukjen + Black Friday Boycott

For the last couple of years, sustainable fashion brand Baukjen has opted not to offer Black Friday discounts. Instead, they’ve donated profits to several UK charities. 

Campaign Highlights

  • Baukjen gives 100% of profits generated between Black Friday and Cyber Monday
  • They support multiple non-profit partners each year
  • Causes include youth suicide prevention, support services for unhoused people, and a volunteer service designed to help local women get home safely at night


How to make non-profit giving part of your ESG initiatives

Finding non-profits to fund is easier than you might think. ActionFunder is a company-to-community giving platform that lets you find, fund, and follow community action in three simple steps.

  1. Create your own community fund: Specify your location, the causes that are important to your business, and any other criteria. Then get matched automatically with aligned non-profits.
  2. Select and fund projects effortlessly: Collect video applications and manage the whole application process through your dashboard. Shortlist your favourites. Then choose and fund the projects that best fit your goals.
  3. Capture and celebrate your impact: Monitor updates, stories, and impact data from the projects you fund. Download reports so you can share and celebrate your impact with folks inside and outside your organisation.

Companies that use ActionFunder cut the time and cost of local giving by 75%. That’s a big deal in our book. Just think how much more profitable your social giving programs will be! 

“As a smaller firm, we do not have the time nor the expertise to deliver the level of outreach to communities that we would like to. Working with ActionFunder has meant that our grants now find their way more efficiently to projects and make a longer-lasting impact.” ~Roger Blears, Senior Partner of RW Blears 

If you’re ready to make non-profit giving part of your ESG program, book a no-obligation demo of the platform.

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