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City Philanthropy

A Wealth of Opportunity

Corporate philanthropy will be more visible says Lord Mayor

Mar 30th 2012
Lord Mayor David Wootton

Corporate philanthropy is becoming increasingly strategic and widespread and will become even more visible in the coming years said London’s Lord Mayor David Wootton at the launch of the 25th annual Lord Mayor’s Dragon Awards that celebrates the best community engagement programmes run by Greater London businesses.

While corporate philanthropy has come a long way, it will raise its profile responding to increasing need and charity funding cuts, the Lord Mayor told a breakfast meeting of voluntary organisation representatives, City of London staff and journalists at Mansion House.  

A vast amount of excellent work is already being done, of course, but since the voluntary sector is being asked to do more with less, we will see more high-profile initiatives emerge,” he said.

More small and medium sized businesses are also running programmes as they realise the benefits businesses can realise from doing so it was said. Lord Mayor David Wootton, a London Corporate partner at  Allen & Overy LLP which runs an award-winning CSR programme, said corporate community involvement (CCI) has become a fact of business life and suppliers to business were expected to be active in this area.

While there is much anecdotal evidence on how such programmes improve employee engagment and retention and soft skills, often more cost effectively than formal training programmes, there was a call for more hard facts and figures to support the evidence.

Five key CCI milestones achieved over the 25 years since the awards were established by then Lord Mayor Sir David Rowe-Ham, were identified in a survey released at the launch, compiled by the City of London Corporation:

  • CCI has become increasingly widespread with community affairs divisions emerging to manage corporate community partnerships
  • Small businesses are today more engaged in CCI as these enterprises realise the valuable contribution they can make even with limited staff and resources[1]
  • Corporate community partnerships are increasingly long-term to maximise the investment and impact of both the charity and business
  • Businesses have developed sophisticated skills-based employee volunteering programmes to help meet a new aim – to equip charitable organisations with the necessary skills to become sustainable in the long term
  • A greater focus on impact as businesses need to justify their community investment, particularly in this challenged economy

Sir Stuart Etherington, chief executive of the National Council of Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), gave an overview of the voluntary sector saying  the last 15 years had been a  “golden age”  and had doubled  in size . But he said the economic climate and funding cuts had shrunk the sector in recent years – 10% of the sector’s workforce was lost last year and volunteering has flat-lined against a backdrop of tough cutbacks.  He said the relationship between corporates and charities continues to grow in importance as the voluntary sectors finds new ways of doing things. “Businesses’ inherent skills will become ever more important as charities seek their support to deliver vital services.”

Mike Tyler, director, Tower Hamlets Education Business Partnership , said its existence is testament to the value of CCI. “Over the years, CCI has undoubtedly got bigger, with a broader range of businesses now involved and a greater commitment from senior management at large firms. This has meant we have been able to positively transform the lives of more individuals, their families and local communities.”

The winners of The Dragon Awards,spearheaded by the City of London Corporation, winners will be announced at the Lord Mayor’s Dragon Awards gala ceremony at Mansion House in the City of London on 3rd October 2012.

[1]The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) identified that two thirds of its members spearhead community initiatives in a 2010 member survey


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