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Corporate Social Responsibility - who cares?

The answer to the question is that we all should; both in terms of the contribution we can make to the community around us and the benefits to be gained as a team from working together to help others, whether by raising money or making a positive difference in other ways.

It was wonderful to hear recently about the MBE awarded to Keith Johnson, Chairman of JW Wood Estate Agents, based in Durham, for his charity work; a well-deserved honour for fundraising efforts spanning 35 years. 

As a sector there is much to be proud of in terms of community involvement and I had the pleasure of witnessing this first-hand at the Agents Giving Ball in September, an event celebrating the wonderful fundraising efforts of agents and the wider property industry across the UK.   

There is a huge range of charitable work being carried out by agencies of all sizes, both on a personal level and as staff groups, with a recent survey suggesting that over £13 million was raised collectively for good causes last year alone. 

The reasons for doing it are usually heartfelt and the results can be truly life-affirming, but there are also many business gains to be had from a positive Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategy. 

Helping others through the workplace not only makes us feel good as individuals, but it’s a behaviour that shapes the way people feel towards the business they work for, as well as the business’ perceived external `personality’. 

Pulling together for the good of the community and taking part in fundraising events are great for team building and raising spirits. What’s more, customers notice businesses that are being socially responsible and are more inclined to support them.

At Moneypenny we’re keen to have fun and if we can raise money or give our time for a good cause into the bargain even better. We’ve done all sorts of things over the years and find that laughing together while pulling together really bonds us as a team.  

In a growing business when the day job’s busy, there is much to be said for taking that kind of time out – getting to know each other better, achieving new things together and making memories. 

We’ve also seen the difference helping others can make through our work with The Moneypenny Foundation, which was launched by our co-founder Rachel Clacher in 2014 to give unemployed young people new opportunities in life and work.  

As well as paid work experience in a variety of employment sectors across Wrexham, our hometown base, the Foundation also comprises life coaching, mentoring and the opportunity to gain a host of skills while trying out new things over a period of six months. 

A year on and each of the second group of eight trainees, as last year, is heading to full-time employment and plenty to look forward to. Many of our staff were able to support the trainees as mentors and the pride associated with all they achieve is infectious.

As a concept, CSR has grown enormously in recent times with more and more companies incorporating community-focused actions into their overall business strategy. Indeed the Government’s Department for Business and Innovation agrees that it is an approach that’s good for business and good for society.  

CSR is what you make it and comes in many forms – philanthropic and environmental as well as a wider mix of individual initiatives. There are plenty of organised local, as well as sector events which make it easy to get involved or there’s always the opportunity to create something new, however large or small, and make an impression elsewhere. 

Peter Knight, Managing Director at the Property Academy and founding director, now Chairman of Agents Giving, is actively involved with several charities and passionate about the benefits on all sides of supporting good causes. 

He says: “Without question, the best way to build a team with a great culture is for them to have objectives other than those directly associated with their job role. Fundraising for a meaningful cause or charity unites people from all disciplines and removes barriers such as hierarchy, length of service, departmental cliques, age, gender and other factors.”

“It's great PR too of course, but this to me is just the icing on the cake; the real benefit for a company having a strong approach to CSR is to allow people to see their colleagues’ talents in ways that they might not even imagine.” 

The reality is we can all have a meaningful impact on the community around us, building great relationships along the way and nurturing happy, motivated and fulfilled staff which in turn makes doing business and getting results that bit easier. 

As Winston Churchill famously said: “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” How right he was.

*Samantha Jones is Commercial Manager of Corporate and Property at telephone answering specialist Moneypenny

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