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SMEs can be an agile solution for charities

Every community has some degree of small business operating close by and more and more of them are looking for ways to help support community action in their localities - by providing facilities, volunteers, advice, money or a combination of all of these.

Why should the voluntary sector seek help from SMEs?

SMEs have a real advantage in delivering for the local voluntary sector. SMEs are flexible and can respond quickly to changing circumstances. For example, in the recent floods to hit the UK SMEs can be the first to respond to requests for help.

SMEs are also creative, allowing for the development of innovative approaches to Social Responsibility. Moreover, the owner/manager is at the heart of the business and can make quick decisions often finding a practical solution.

SMEs are also less bureaucratic, which makes it easier to get things done and get all employees involved. This kind of engagement can result in long-term relationships being built.

Benefits back to the business

SMEs may perceive barriers to getting involved in volunteering such as time and cost – the benefits back however can give a return on investment.

Involving staff in volunteering should be seen as an investment in your smaller business. Getting involved in such activities can deliver many business benefits in addition to making a tangible difference to the wider community. Benefits include improved staff retention, more motivated colleagues, better procurement options and an extension of the business network.

Other businesses are also more likely to work with companies that are socially responsible, due to requirements in their own CSR programmes, and so many businesses gain contracts as a result. This latter point will become more relevant as larger business seek to drive CSR down their own procurement chains as the demands of the Social Value Act take effect.

And of course its all about reputation locally – by becoming known as a good community minded business it follows your business reputation will strengthen also – no need for expensive marketing - just get out in the local area and do good.

For SMEs who want to do more but need a little helping hand

If local businesses want to find out about their local voluntary sector, a good place to go is the local support and development organisation that serves their area. Check out the NAVCA Directory.

They will put you in touch with local charities and voluntary organisations that may be interested in partnering with you. If you are looking specifically for opportunities to volunteer England could help you

You can also check out

And of course when you have done good don’t forget to join Trading for Good and share your experience.

Kay Allen
About the Author

Kay Allen

Kay is the Founding Director of Trading for Good. She is a consultant on Responsible Business advising clients including Fujitsu, who won Responsible Business of the year with BITC in 2015. Previously a Non-Executive Director DWP Pension Disability and Carers Service, Kay is a well networked, high profile ambassador for equality and social action with a proven track record as an outstanding innovator in the private and public sector.

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