As you know, I’m a huge advocate of using your business to support charities in whatever way you can. I’m also aware though, that it can be difficult to set aside time and/or money to do that, so I’d like to share some thoughts on how you might be able to, when you’re ready.

In a recent blog, How Can SMEs Contribute to Charity, I shared some considerations towards putting charity in your business plan, so you can make time in advance to think about charity. Now let’s look at 9 examples from people in my own network, of activities that have raised funds and awareness for Oxfordshire charities.

1.      CEO sleepout

On one of the coldest, wettest days of October, 43 Oxfordshire entrepreneurs, including Darren Aston, Cathy Dunbabin, Rich Smith and Jon Ellard slept out in an Oxford University field under tarpaulin to raise money and awareness for the growing homelessness concern in the county.

CEO Sleepout is a UK wide initiative that really any business can take part in, but the fact that it’s aimed at making chiefs, directors and managers cold and uncomfortable, I feel, really makes a bigger impact. You can take part by sleeping out, or by sponsoring a participant, or finding a similar practical activity that helps raise awareness and/or funds for a charity.

2.      Donate unwanted items to charity

Staying with the theme of homelessness, Aston and James run the 100 Coats campaign, to collect winter coats every December. I know some people who use their business network groups and Facebook groups to take part in collecting coats from their local community. It doesn’t cost you anything, but that contribution could make an enormous difference to someone’s life.

Your business could take part in collecting items such as coats or set up a food bank collection point or even a bra recycling bank.

3.      Share your profits

Every month of this year I donated the royalties from my book to a different charity. 105 Ways to Accelerate Your Business Success is a compilation of articles I have written over the years to support entrepreneurs. I see no reason why I can’t help charities at the same time as supporting businesses. Some of the charities that have received contributions include African Children’s Fund, Play2Give, Homeless Oxfordshire, Special Effect, Sobell House and Be Free Young Carers.

I’ve met a transport business that offsets their carbon footprint by passing on a percentage of their profits to a charity that plants trees, and others that simply make an annual donation to their favourite charity.

4.      Sponsoring or volunteer for local sports teams

I do this, and I see many Oxford-based businesses do too. You just need to see any of the Oxford United or Oxford City social media to see it! There are so many young teams that rely on sponsorship from businesses to keep going. If your child takes part in a club, why not plan to give some time or a little money to help keep it running? 

5.      Use your networking group to put on an event

Business networking groups are THE places to go to build professional relationships and find support. Most groups have a chosen charity member that give a concession on the membership fees, but your group could take it further and organise a special event, from a race night and raffle to a large open networking breakfast with special guest speaker.

6.      Go to a charity ball

Next Christmas, you could choose to buy a table or two at a charity ball as a way of celebrating your team and treating them to a Christmas party that gives back. Black-tie, dinner, casino, silent disco, raffle – it’s a special night out that everyone will appreciate, and you’ll be supporting your favourite charity too.

7.      Get sponsored to do something uncomfortable

Other than sleeping out in a field overnight, you could join a sponsored cold swim, Three Peaks Challenge, the Oxford Half Marathon or like me, join the Bollox and Boots sponsored walk to raise funds and awareness for men’s cancers.

8.      Give your time, expertise or services for free

According to the Federation of Small Businesses, this is the favoured way of supporting charity through your business. Do you take on pro-bono work, help the school PTA or a charitable trust by bringing your skills and services to the team?

9.      Share on social

The easiest way to show your support to a local charity is by sharing their posts to your own social media channels. They need to get their message out there, and your share will most certainly be appreciated.

So, you’ve got some ideas now, what will you be adding into your 2024 plan for charity? If you’d like to be put in touch with any of the charities, businesses or people in this article, please get in touch with me for a networking 1:1 and let’s talk about what fun can be had next year in aid of charity.

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