How to find Social Value within your existing business activities

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How to find Social Value within your existing business activities

A few weeks ago we talked about ‘what is social value, explaining different ways in which it can be accounted for within society. There has been a lot of buzz around the changes in the criteria for public procurement as we have previously discussed – now, due to PPN 06/20, public authorities must not only consider social value in their tender criteria, but place at least 10% of their weighting on it. (Read about it in more depth here)

This is great if you are a company that already has a robust social value strategy in place and a credible, auditable way of accounting for it. But what if you are just starting out on the journey and do not want to be left behind in this new tender process? How can you show bid assessors that you too are providing additional social value through the work that you do?

Of course, in order to stay competitive, you can’t just add on more and more additional services, no matter how beneficial to the local community or environment they may be. There is no point in having the most robust and comprehensive list of value adds, if you don’t end up winning the contract because your price is out of budget.

And we aren’t just talking about the charity work or volunteering you commit to through your CSR or employee engagement programmes. Social value activities are so much more widespread than this. Do you really know what activities you can claim as providing social value? There are plenty that your business is probably already engaging in right now… Once you know this, you unlock your potential to be considered on a whole range of projects where you might otherwise have missed out.

What are the themes and topics you need to think about?

As part of rolling out PPN 06/20 the government produced The Social Value Model to give guidance around to the areas of interest. We’ve listed the themes and their associated topics below. Don’t be put off by either the vagueness of the wording or the intensity of the guidance document that goes with it. It is actually a very logical and useful list of activities that many companies already engage in. You may just not think of them as ‘social value’ in these terms, but once you look at the evidence around the fiscal, environmental and societal effects, it all starts to paint a kinder picture.

PPN 0620 Themes Thrive Social Value

There are 52 metrics in total within The Social Value Model and so there is likely several metrics that you are already recording. Some examples include

Theme 1: Tackling Covid-19 Recovery:

  • Number of full-time equivalent (FTE) employment opportunities created under the contract for those who were made redundant due to COVID-19.

Theme 3: Fighting Climate Change:

  • Number of people-hours spent protecting and improving the environment under the contract

Theme 4: Equal Opportunity:

  • Number of full-time equivalent (FTE) disabled people employed under the contract

So how do you know the fiscal, environmental and societal effects of your work? You need a tool to quantify it. At Thrive Social Value we use ImpactUK to do this. This measurement tool is a collection of the 52 metrics directly aligned to The Social Value Model, but also 50 more as well.  ImpactUK covers not only the metrics, but the financial proxy values and guidance documents which have been designed by a panel of Social Value experts. It takes account of the continually changing landscape in procurement and draws upon the latest guidance from the UK government.

So, in this upcoming series of blog posts, we take a look at where you can delve deeper into your existing supply chain or businesses practices to show how you can demonstrate additional social value, without adding significantly to your contract cost.

Social Value Tracking Essential for SMEs says Kenny Waste Management

Capturing, calculating and tracking social value data does not just have to be for those with thousands of employees and big budgets. It is cost effective – and essential – for SMEs too.

Here Kenny Waste Management – Manchester’s largest independent total waste management business – explain how they can now bring to life all of their social value activities, which has helped them build trust with their customers, and  strengthened relationships in their supply chain.

“At Kenny Waste Management, being a responsible business is at the heart of what we do. We are making new decisions daily and it is critical to us that our decisions have a positive impact across all parts of our business: in our workplace, within our supply chain, in our local communities and in the environment.

We are determined to demonstrate to other Small & Medium sized Enterprises that being socially minded and creating responsible initiatives need not come at a commercial cost. We can contribute to the communities we live and work in and engage in a competitive landscape. Our aspiration is that we are a leading voice and help others in the Waste Management sector to deliver social and financial value to the communities in which we all work.

That is why we chose to partner with Thrive Social Value to track, measure and report on all the activities across our business – for each client, each region and in any time period.

Their software system is invaluable for companies like ours who have big ideas, but have to be efficient when we collect and analyze data. With Thrive Social Value we can track and report on what is important to us and to our clients, without spending hours pulling together statistics from different departments each time. We know that our service is often one of many among other suppliers on a larger project and it is crucial that we can give real time verified updates on our activities and our outcomes.

Thrive provides a measurement tool which is aligned with government guidance, and places a financial value on the social activities that we do.

For the first time we now have robust data to show exactly how our decisions around inclusive hiring, career training, school engagement and carbon emission reduction to name just a few, can have a financial benefit to our community. Being able to demonstrate the source of this data has helped build trust with our customers, and has strengthened relationships .

The Thrive Social Value software works for us because it is an affordable way for us to measure our social value. For our business, social value is a ‘built-in’ and not a ‘bolt-on’ and so it is incredibly important that the tools we use to measure and report on our social value are flexible as we grow. Thrive Social Value was the only tool we found that gave us the flexibility to report and measure what is important to us and our clients, without compromising the amount of financial support we can give to our social value activities”

Read more about Kenny Waste Management and their Responsible Business Activities by clicking here.

KWM logo

How to Win More Business by Demonstrating your Social Value in Tenders – PART THREE

Welcome to the final of our 3 part series on Winning Business through Social Value. This is a guide for construction contractors. Last time we looked at the first 2 steps you need to consider when implementing your Social Value strategy to help you win business. This week we will look at the final steps – how to capture and report on your activities and how to pull this all together to actually help your tender success rate.

 

Step Three – Data Capture & Reporting

A plan is great, it’s essential. But if you have no way of either tracking, or showcasing the social value that you are creating then it is a huge shame and will not work in your favour when trying to win business. Let’s look at how you can easily fix that problem.

Capture your activities

capture your activities - win business

One of the biggest challenges that contractors face is how to accurately and comprehensively capture data about the social and community activities they have committed to. The stories and images of this work tell such a powerful story that they can often create a chain reaction effect getting more and more people involved and engaged within your organization.

But collating all of this is hard. It’s the nature of the beast – head office needs the information, but the on-the-ground activities take place across a disparate set of project locations and often individual pieces of information are ‘owned’ by an even greater number of individual employees and suppliers.

So, avoid this by having a clear plan on what you are aiming to achieve and who owns the data. Make sure this is clear from the pre-construction phase so you start off on the right foot.

Then, think about how your ‘data collectors’ are going to supply information to a central point within the business. Options are:

  • Spreadsheets/google sheets. This method is cheap but prone to inaccuracy and duplication. With no ability to provide prompts to staff or suppliers to input data this can be a labour intensive method.
  • Database system. This is a more structured data handling and reporting system. But tracking won’t be in real-time and there is still no ability to provide prompts to input data.
  • Specialist software. This can provide flexibility on how your metrics and ‘pillars’ are set up, can explain to staff why the information is being collected, and can prompt staff when it is time to submit info. The system will also store auditable evidence of your activity.
 Report your activities

Who are your stakeholders and how do they that want information presented? We’ve already highlighted the need to convey information back to staff and suppliers as a ‘motivator’ but how do your clients need information to be reported?

During the construction phase of a project you will be reporting on the construction framework, client, project etc. But you’ll also need to be able to easily pull out overall performance for bid submissions.

Also, your reporting should be a combination quantitative (providing data/statistics) and qualitative (capturing case studies and imagery of your activities). Again, modern, specialist software is best to avoid your team wasting huge amounts of time compiling reports in different formats and, importantly, to have all of your data ‘at your fingertips’ for bid submissions and client meetings.

 

Step Four – Win Business!

Win business though social value

So how can we pull all this together to actually help us win more of the tenders we are going for?

As we discussed in our first blog in this series, many contracts now have 15-20% of the marking regime attributable to social value. At this level, can you afford not to have a clear social value strategy and demonstrable outcomes?

You should be thinking of this as an opportunity to differentiate your business.

In a competitive market, what is your USP; what sets you apart? For example, do you have a great relationship with particular charity partners and if so have you made this really clear? Do you invest significantly in staff training and development and can you demonstrate this in your reports? Do you have market leading environmental credentials? Can you use existing frameworks to turn this activity into a £ benefit you bring to society?

It is becoming harder and harder to differentiate on price, experience, health and safety etc. But, with some planning and some investment in better tracking, calculation and reporting, you can really make sure your social value commitments and business values are known! This can really make you stand out in a crowded marketplace.

Have a chat with us at Thrive Social Value to find out how you can calculate and demonstrate your social value more effectively, to help you win more bids. Request a demo today.

How to Win More Business by Demonstrating your Social Value in Tenders – PART TWO

Welcome to part 2 in our 3 part series on Winning Business through Social Value. This is a guide for construction contractors.

Last week we talked about what Social Value is in terms of government tenders. This week we will talk you through the first 2 critical steps you need to consider when implementing your Social Value strategy to help you win business in construction.

Step One – What Is Your Strategy?

Strategy - how to win bids

Let’s looks at the question of strategy

To maximise your business and community value, don’t go off ‘half cocked’. Your message to employees, supply chain and clients must be clear and coherent and aligned to your business values. If you are struggling to know where to start, you can ask yourself these 2 key questions:

1. Is there a common thread to the contributions demanded by your clients across different projects?

Whether your projects are local or national, based on new creation or regeneration and repair, what are the local and social requirements across the board?

2. What are your own core social and environmental values that you as an organization would like to convey?

You may need to go back to your mission statement or vision, talk with your board or your management team, but you should have a very clear sense of the values that make your company who you are and what you want others to know about you.

Combine your answers to these questions to define 3 – 5 ‘pillars’ to your CSR & Social Value Strategy. Typical examples are:
  • Employment and skills
  • Community and Volunteering
  • Local Economic Benefit
  • Environment
  • Health and Wellbeing
These pillars will guide the decisions you make and how you want your social value strategy to be formed.

Once you’ve set these pillars, decide what the outcomes (or ‘metrics’) are that you will need to accurately track and report.

You will want to be able to demonstrate your social and environmental activities and so these must be monitored and reported. The most common examples we see, include:

  • Graduate placements
  • Apprenticeship weeks
  • Community donations
  • Community days volunteering
  • Local SME spend under 10,20,30,40 miles
  • Spend with social enterprise
  • Waste diverted from landfill
  • Construction waste produced

Have 3-5 core outcomes per ‘pillar’. You will then have 10-20 areas which are your core outcomes. Track these for every project – you will then have a reliable framework to use to confidently demonstrate your company’s social and environmental contribution.

Layer in additional metrics as and when they are required by your clients for individual projects. Make sure you are asking your clients what their local needs are at the beginning – don’t assume they remain unchanged from project to project. Work with them to provide what they need.

Note: some of your outcomes/metrics will need a ‘proxy value’ to convert from units measured to a £ measure of social value (e.g. apprentice weeks worked). Proxy values can be obtained from a number of freely available public sources (a good consultant will be able to advise) or from one of the many commercially available frameworks.

Step Two – Engagement & Communication

Strategy - communicate with staff

The second step you need to work through is the engagement and ‘buy in’ from your staff and stakeholders. There’s no point in your senior team devising the perfect strategy, if you don’t get acceptance from your supply chain and employees who will be executing and recording your social and environmental contributions on-the-ground at a project level. Part of this comes from step 1 – making sure you are aware of the values that are important to the business and that this is not only conveyed across the board, but ‘lived’.

An easy way to convey the message is to create a simple comms plan. Key attributes of this are:

  • Explaining why the business is delivering on social and environmental commitments
  • Clearly explaining the specific role each person plays, what tasks they will be expected to complete, and how they will record what they’ve done
  • Describing clearly to individuals how their contribution will make a difference to the bigger picture – to society, to the business and ultimately back to their job satisfaction and security
  • Reward and recognise achievements – even if it’s a simple ‘thank you’

Other key things to consider are:

  • What are the key messages you want to convey about your business values? Continually reinforce these.
  • What channels do you use to convey these messages – email, intranet, one-to-one? Only you know your demographic.
  • How frequently do you reinforce the message? Also look out for key dates or events in the year e.g. national apprenticeship week.
  • Are there incentives for hitting targets?
  • How will you report back performance to individuals, both on their own performance and the overall company performance?
This table is a handy little reference tool to keep you in check. Add the necessary elements to your calendar and delegate where appropriate.

Social Value Engagement Table

So now you know the first two steps to winning more business with Social Value; Define your strategy, keep your message clear and make sure you communicate effectively to all those involved.  Next week we will look at how to capture the social value you provide, and how to use this to win the business you need.

Want to read more? Learn what exactly is Social Value.

What is Social Value? And How Can I Measure It?

Here at Thrive Social Value, we help businesses demonstrate the extensive social value they create. Whether large or small, and irrespective of industry type, it’s astonishing the hidden impact many businesses are having. Our tools help them show both stakeholders, the community and bid assessors how exactly they are contributing to society through the work that they do. But what exactly IS social value and how can you measure it?

According to Social Value UK, one of the most recognised professional bodies for Social Value, it is the …’quantification of the relative importance that people place on the changes they experience in their lives.

For example, a new library is built in a town that previously didn’t have one. Paid for by the local council, they are able to look at the value the new resource brings to people’s lives. They can assess the effect on society when more people have access to literature and reference materials. Or they can look at the positive impact of giving young people a place to go to learn. They can consider the benefits to mental health that providing a space for lectures and talks has delivered. There may even be an assessment of the new employment opportunities that this new facility can now provide. All of these are social benefits which did not exist before the library was built. 

But more than that, all the contractors used in the construction of the library – from the builders to the telecommunications providers can also demonstrate social value from their work. Perhaps they have been able to give apprenticeships to local people. These people may even have been out of work previously. Perhaps they have used green technologies such as solar panels, cutting the carbon emissions of the town by a good percentage. 

Often considered the mainstay of charities and churches, we now see there is a huge opportunity for commercial organisations to both provide and demonstrate social value. The growing movement to account for these values seeks to change the way people think about it. Social value goes far beyond engaging in an employee volunteering scheme or some theatrical show of presenting a comically sized cheque to a good cause. We need to look at a long-term strategy. How do our practices get people off the streets? Can we return more unemployed people to work? How can we improve the safety of our communities? Can we protect the mental health of our young people? What strategies can we have to foster these long term needs without compromising on the delivery of our main business? How can we integrate these outcomes into the values and mission of our business?

Safer lighting social value

In terms of the commercial world, the idea of assessing social value is relatively new.

It was only in 2013 that The Public Services (Social Value) Act encouraged people who commission public services to think about how they can also secure wider social, economic and environmental benefits. Designed as a ‘tool to help commissioners get more value for money out of procurement’ it comes across more as a cost saving exercise than a mandate to look at overall societal benefits.

The government did try. They introduced the Social Value Awards in 2016 and created a collection of resources available for anyone trying to negotiate the tricky path to including social value in their business. But navigating your way through Public Procurement Notes (PPNs) and white papers was not made easy. A review of the Act in 2016 admitted that it was ‘having a positive effect where it is taken up, and that it has clear potential to act as a tool for smarter procurement given the right application’ – but potential doesn’t equate to progress and there were too many loopholes or circumstances where the act didn’t need to be applied for this to be a game changer. 

Still many organisations used this to improve their practice. Forward thinking Tier 1 constructors like Kier chose to imbed this strategy into their mission well before it became the norm. “Kier is committed to preventing environmental and social harm, as well as replenishing our natural systems & renewable resources and having a positive impact on the communities and environments in which we operate” states Kier Group Chief Executive Andrew Davies.

However, while still a ‘nice to have’ plenty of bid assessors were making decisions based on lowest cost. Thankfully in 2020 we had the introduction of PPN 06/20 – In the most basic terms, PPN 06/20 says that Central Government Departments, their Executive Agencies and Non Departmental Public Bodies must give 10% weighting to social value in all tenders. Now it is mandatory there is more of a need to really understand what social value is and how you can really get behind the outcomes.

But how do you measure social value?

Good question. There are many different ways of appraising or measuring social value but, for simplicity’s sake, we’ll use a common method here.

How do you measure the increased benefit one gets from living beside a park or from having improved street lighting? These once abstract ideas do in fact have a more technical side to them. A bid assessor – or indeed the general public – wants to know the financial value attributed to your activities. So there needs to be a way to assess this. 

So let’s think of it this way. ‘If £1 is spent on the delivery of services, can that same £1 be used, to also produce a wider benefit to the community?’ (Social Enterprise UK)

As part of PPN 06/20 the government created the Social Value Model which outlines the key objectives that contractors need to be thinking about – centred around the topics that are key in today’s world. But PPN 06/20 and the Social Value Model related to it do not include a methodology to turn raw metric information into financial numbers. Many organisations commissioning public projects want to understand a financial value for social value, alongside the metric commitments.

You need something to say “If I do this, it will produce £X in terms of social value”. But each company cannot be expected to work those values out themselves. There needs to be a benchmark, some form of aggregated model or framework to be accountable to and measure your activity against. That is why Thrive’s software has a built in set of “proxy values” to help businesses who also want to financially value the social impact they are creating. Putting a value to social impact is a broader, and very important, topic which we will cover more deeply in subsequent posts in this Social Value series.

Want to know more? Read How to Win More Business by Demonstrating your Social Value in Tenders

What is PPN 06/20 and what are the more recent changes?

Acronyms are a mainstay of the corporate world. If you’ve ever worked for a large company your days would no doubt have been filled with in house shortenings that only you and your well entrenched company colleagues would understand. A sort of day-to-day code for those in the know.

But now there is one acronym you really need to understand. If you are interested in procuring a government contract, get used to hearing this one a lot…

PPN 06/20

What does this mean?

Firstly PPN means Public Procurement Note. A PPN is used to tell people about changes to the way goods and services are procured by the public sector.

Procurement Policy Note 06/20 (or PPN 06/20) is officially titled ‘Taking Account of Social Value in the Award of Central Government Contracts’.

In the Government’s own words ‘This Procurement Policy Note (PPN) launches a new model to deliver social value through government’s commercial activities. Central government organisations should use this model to take account of the additional social benefits that can be achieved in the delivery of its contracts, using policy outcomes aligned with this government’s priorities’. Read the full note here.

So if you are a business that wants to provide your service to the government, it is best you equip yourself with the knowledge of what they are looking for in terms of your social value contribution.

In the most basic terms, PPN 06/20 says that Central Government Departments, their Executive Agencies and Non Departmental Public Bodies (referred to as In-Scope Organisations) must give 10% weighting to social value in all tenders.

Previously, through the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012 there was a hope that social value was considered. However, it was not mandated. It was often up to the person assessing the bid to decide how much value they felt they needed to place on this one component. And whether your bid was up to the mark in that regard.

It is a welcome change within the system. It is hard to argue against the fact that, when using public funds, the public sector must maximise social value effectively. Individual projects, both at a national and local level have long been missing this key requirement to both create – and demonstrate – the significantly positive impact that can result from broadening the benefits that are delivered.

Considering the speed at which this change has come in – being announced in September and made mandatory to all new procurements from 1st January 2021, it is not hard to believe that this way of considering the value provided by any one contractor – being scrutinized at much more than a fiscal level – will become more and more entrenched.

In fact, while a minimum weighting of 10% of the scoring has been mandated, expect to see the ‘norm’ start to creep higher. Especially in the more controversial projects such as large scale construction and infrastructure. The 10% was chosen, in part, to allow the assessor the ability to see a differentiation between bids – inferring that those writing the guidelines are not expecting all contractors to be up to speed and hitting those percentages in the immediate future.

This provides an opportunity for those who can. Those who consider this a tick boxing exercise will soon fall by the wayside.

As part of PPN 06/20 the government published ‘The Social Value Model’. This is a framework of over 50 metrics that organisations can – and should – track to substantiate their social value work. Both for tenders and ongoing project monitoring.

You can read the model here. But at a basic level it goes through 5 key themes; Covid-19 recovery; Tackling Economic Inequality; Fighting Climate Change; Equal Opportunity; Wellbeing.

For organisations selling into government, understanding these metrics and being able to track and evaluate progress against them is key.

For now the Social Value Model outlined by the government will fit most procurement situations and is a big step forward in standardizing the approach taken by the whole industry. However some government departments, councils and local authorities are already going further than this. Many are asking for a monetary value to be put on the social impact a procurement contract can create. PPN 06/20 and the Social Value Model related to it do not include a methodology to turn raw metric information into financial numbers. So, in a future blog post, we’ll be introducing you to ImpactUK, a framework designed to solve this problem and extend what the government has provided with it’s Social Value Model.

How to Win More Business by Demonstrating your Social Value in Tenders – PART ONE

Welcome to the first in our 3-part series on Winning Business through Social Value. This is a guide for construction contractors; We will talk you through the 4 critical steps you need to consider when implementing your Social Value strategy to help you win tenders.

But what is Social Value in terms of the construction industry?

In 2012 the Government introduced the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012 (‘the Act”). This had a goal to ‘…strengthen the social enterprise business sector and make the concept of ‘social value’ more relevant and important in the placement and provision of public services’.

But how? The point of the Act was to make sure that when local and national bodies were making spending decisions, they gave consideration to outcomes which benefited the community. In an economic, social or environmental way. The intention was to make sure public funds delivered the best value for money. Not only in the ROI on the project, but in terms of wider benefits to the community,

So, authorities must make sure the companies they employ to carry out contracts demonstrate that they make decisions to benefit the community too. This could be through a wide range of different commitments… Examples include a pledge to employ a certain amount of long-term unemployed people; agreeing to replace outdated or dangerous facilities in the community in which they operate etc

While this act was brought in almost 10 years ago, it was recently recognized that it did not go far enough. The need for businesses to act sustainably is coming under greater scrutiny. There was still a tendency for contracts to be awarded based on the lowest price, basically missing the point of the new Act.

In 2015, things went a little further. The United Kingdom, along with the other United Nations, committed to delivering the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This outlines 17 goals to be achieved by 2030. These are aimed at ending poverty, protecting the planet and ensuring prosperity for all.

Globe of the world - sustainability goals

PPN 06/20

Things took a more decisive turn this year with recent additions to the Act – referred to as PPN 06/20. These came into place in January 2021, and decree that a minimum 10% of the weighting criteria of tender awards must be based on the social value credentials. It’s no longer enough to sponsor a local event in the name of a public image exercise. There are now serious commercial consequences to improving the community. Carbon reductions, training schemes, locally sourced materials… the list of options on how a company can provide social value is vast. But to make things a little clearer, as part of PPN 06/20, the government have created a Social Value Model. This should be applied to government procurement and runs on 5 themes and 8 outcomes:

PPN 0620 Themes Thrive Social Value

So, the % contribution from social value in tender submission is now often 15%-20% or more. And financial penalties have been introduced for not delivering on commitments. Thus capturing and conveying the social value a business delivers has moved from a ‘nice to have’ to a ‘must have’. Not only for winning new business but also maintaining it.

Yet the landscape is still a confused one.

While it is great that the government have laid down a foundation for how they will asses the social value component, how do you actually measure the activities you are doing and effectively relay this back to them in your tender? If you have had an ad hoc or reactive approach to this element of tendering before now, where do you start? And how can you know that what you are putting forward is valuable to the body evaluating the tender?

It is time to change the way Social Value contributions are thought of. Contractors need to take control of their own Social Value approach. To empower themselves to be able to succinctly ‘tell their story’ in bid submissions; to feel proud to report back on achievements to clients during project meetings; and to derive overall business success from properly engaging their staff, supply chain and community partners.

You can read more about how the social value component of a tender is weighted and considered here

So where do you start when making sure you are demonstrating your social value? It goes far beyond writing the provisions into your tender contract. It comes down to how you operate as a business, how your staff feel, and how you tell everyone about your wins… You can read part two on how to look at social value in construction here.

 

How to Win Business through Social Value - Thrive

Community Volunteering Opportunities During Covid-19

In this blog we look at the community volunteering and community mutual aid opportunities available for your staff to participate in.

(Note: This blog post is UK centric but community support opportunities in other regions will be covered in a later post)

In my recent blog posts I discussed how we’ve seen the world of corporate volunteering quickly adapting to the Covid-19 crisis. Rather than employee volunteering programmes closing down, many CSR Managers are repurposing their programmes and harnessing their employee volunteering resources in the community response to the disease.

Last week I provided an overview of the types of virtual volunteering (where a person does volunteering without leaving their home) to help boost employee mental health as well provide assistance to those in need. However, many of us want to feel that we are making a difference where it means the most – in our local communities, right on our doorsteps. Due to this, we are seeing many corporates allowing employees to use their volunteering leave to do this. Below we provide a detailed list of the organisations and opportunities available for in person community volunteering.

 

We are social distancing, can I still go out to volunteer in my local community?

Yes*. Although we are all advised to stay at home except for very limited exceptions, one of those limited exceptions is ‘to provide care or to help a vulnerable person’.

You must also do so safely by following health, hygiene and safeguarding guidance.

*Based on official UK government guidance at the time of writing. Please ensure you check government guidance before you do any volunteering.

 

In what ways can I help?

There are lots of ways volunteers can support vulnerable people who need help. And remember, it’s not just about neighbours who are self-isolating or vulnerable – other people in the community who might also appreciate help include: stretched medical staff and volunteers, staff and volunteers in key worker roles, supermarket workers and delivery drivers.

Some of the ways volunteers are helping out include:

  • helping with shopping and running errands
  • collection or delivery of prescriptions and medication
  • driving people to/from health appointments or other essential appointments
  • helping to organise food deliveries from food banks and/or supermarkets
  • walking pets

 

Where can I find local volunteering opportunities?

The following resources provide links to over 6000 groups and charities that are currently providing support to local communities across the UK…

Each link below contains a huge amount of local, geographically dispersed organisations and opportunities your staff could avail of – so I hope you get value from this list we have compiled. I’d like to thank our staff for the huge amount of research that has gone into this! As always, if you have other resources to share, please email me (neilm@thrivesocialvalue.com) or comment below.

 

COMMUNITY SUPPORT/HELPING HAND

  • Our research has shown over 4000 Mutual Aid groups have been set up around the UK to help co-ordinate local community support. The best central resource cataloging all these groups is: https://covidmutualaid.org/
  • A matching service between those offering assistance and those needing assistance. There are many amazing possibilities here! https://localhelpers.org/

FOODBANKS

COMMUNITY HEALTH

OTHER NETWORKS

OR…

If none of these suit, or you can’t find an organisation close to you, you can always do things your own way by looking out for vulnerable neighbours and relatives, or put fliers through doors offering your assistance.

Finally… Make Sure You Capture Your Employee Volunteering & Recognise Individual Efforts

It is important to track what your employees are doing in their local community. HR/Health and Safety is one reason, and the other is so you can follow the amazing work they are doing and feed that back into the organization (photos or short feedback snippets are great) to encourage more and more of your staff to get involved.

As part of our own giving back, Thrive CSR is currently offering a FREE employee volunteering logging tool to help CSR Managers with this. Please feel free reach out to me at neilm@thrivesocialvalue.com with any queries.

Stay safe and we hope this helps!

Neil

20 of the best virtual volunteering opportunities for your employees

In this blog I will give an overview of the cultural and business response seen to Covid-19 volunteering and then provide a detailed list of virtual volunteering opportunities and resources you, and your staff, can tap into during the crisis.

 

Caught off guard

The unprecedented speed at which the Covid-19 crisis has impacted society as we know it has been frightening; with governments, businesses, communities and our own families all caught off guard.  And it is now, as the stories of heart-breaking personal loss and the immediate economic impact on businesses and the charitable sector begin to emerge, that we are starting to build a picture of the hardships to come over the next year and perhaps beyond.

However, there is a ‘wartime spirit’ that this crisis has envoked which is galvanising us more as a society than anything else many of us have seen in our lifetime. In the UK, a national call for 250,000 healthcare volunteers was exceeded twofold in 24 hours, harking back to Lord Kitchener’s recruitment drive during World War I. In the US, the private sector’s rapid rallying to build 200,000 ventilators, reminding us of the frenetic activity seen in footage of munitions factories in World War II.

Although we were ‘caught napping’, we can be uplifted by and proud of how we are reacting as a society.

 

So, what can businesses do to help?

At Thrive CSR, we sit at the junction between medium/large business and the charitable sector and we’ve always believed in the power of business to change society.

If we quickly look at some numbers around this (anyone who knows me knows I love a good statistic!):

  • In the UK, there are over 250,000 businesses employing 10 or more employees which in total employ over 18 million people. If even half of those adopted a typical volunteering leave policy (say 1.5 days per year per employee) that would be more than 100 million volunteering hours contributed every year.
  • The same stats for the USA are around 6 times this number – resulting in over 600 million volunteering hours.

Given that the employee engagement benefits of employee volunteering are now well documented, and the need in the community is clear, there are incredibly strong reasons for the 1.5 million businesses cited above to deploy their “troops” via a volunteer army to assist with the Covid-19 fight. To those who are doing this already, our hats go off to you.

 

But we can’t volunteer, we can’t leave our homes…

In the UK, and globally, we are all in lockdown at present and most businesses have staff working from home or furloughed, which of course makes more ‘traditional’ employee volunteering such as team building events out of the question.

In my last blog post, I commented on how forward thinking CSR Managers are quickly adapting their employee volunteering programmes to enable staff to complete ‘virtual volunteering’ and community aid volunteering. And we have been reading more and more stories of how businesses large and small are adopting this approach, as well as continuing to hear this directly from our own customers such as Linklaters solicitors, Wessex Water and Avanti Trains et al.

What we have heard from many, however, is that they are struggling to find good sources of Virtual Volunteering opportunities for their staff. So we’ve put our team to work to help find you some of the best virtual volunteering available to help boost the mental wellbeing of your employees and assist in the Covid-19 fight. Below is the list we have curated.

We’ve seen that there a number of typical broad categories that these fall into, including: Community Support, Education and Mentoring, Skills Based Volunteering and Online Research Projects.

Please use this list to kick start your employee virtual volunteering and let us know if you can recommend any more sources and we’ll repost an updated list next week…

(As always, make sure you do your own due diligence on any of the organisations below recommending them to your employees)

Let’s all do our part from home in the fight against Covid-19! #alonetogether

 

COMMUNITY/EMOTIONAL SUPPORT DURING COVID-19

 

EDUCATION/MENTORING

 

SKILLS BASED

 

ONLINE RESEARCH PROJECTS FOR GOOD

 

OTHERS…

 

AND A MORE LIGHT HEARTED ONE TO FINISH:

  • Not exactly volunteering, but a fun way for your employees to interact online while doing good… Answer the quiz questions correctly and the UN World Food Programme donates rice to change lives! https://freerice.com

 

That’s all for now, if you have additional resources to share please comment below or email me – neilm@thrivesocialvalue.com

Introduction to Sustainable Development Goals

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were launched by the United Nations in 2015 as a ‘global framework for a sustainable future’, aimed at ending poverty, protecting the planet and ensuring prosperity for all.  Whilst set up to be implemented by governments, the private sector is fundamental to their success, particularly in the areas of finance, economic growth and innovation. So business matters to the SDGs but why should the SDGs matter to business?

The clue is in the title. The fact is that the world – its environment, society, economy – in its current state, is not sustainable. Globally, we’re consuming more than the Earth can continue to provide, and we’re destroying our life support systems in the process.

That’s as bad for business as it is for all for us.

Hence, as populations grow, resources get scarcer and the social and economic disruption of climate change becomes evident, businesses will face challenges that limit their potential to grow or even survive in some cases. ‘Business as usual’ will not be an option.  It will be in business’ own interest to address the social and environmental challenges that the SDGs encompass, or face a very uncertain future.

The case is eloquently summed up by Unilever’s CEO Paul Polman who said: “It is not possible to achieve long-term business success in a world which contains poverty, hunger and climate change. But can business really help drive a reboot of the current system?  At Unilever, we think the answer is ‘yes’.”

But how should businesses engage?

  • Firstly, using the SDGs as a framework for identifying and disclosing business risks and impacts is an excellent basis for improving strategic decision making, helping achieve better outcomes for the business, its customers, as well as society at large.
  • Secondly, minimising negative and maximising positive impacts in areas that are material to the business and its stakeholders, reduces these risks and results in a range of (often unanticipated) business benefits, such as investor confidence, customer loyalty, staff retention and efficiencies that cut costs for the business, its supplies and customers – a ‘win-win’ all round.
  • Thirdly, the Goals can signpost business opportunity in the form of new products, services and markets.  In a future that will demand different ways of doing things, business should do what business does best by innovating to provide ‘environmentally and socially’ better products and services, as leaders like Unilever, Patagonia and Interface are already demonstrating.

On this last and perhaps the most fundamental point, the Business and Sustainable Development Commission’s ‘Better Business, Better World’ report http://report.businesscommission.org/report estimates a $12 trillion per year business opportunity in new sustainable products and cost efficiencies associated with companies pursuing the SDGs.

But whilst the SDG’s can be seen as a great strategic framework for futureproofing the business, their comprehensive nature – 17 goals and 169 targets – can present a challenge.

So how should companies determine which goals to engage with?

  1. Start by assessing which SDGs are material to the business and its stakeholders, identifying the most relevant SDG targets and determining objectives around these, with the aim of optimising business and shared value in the areas of biggest impact and opportunity.
  2. Prepare a strategy to ensure these objectives will achieve their intended outcomes, ensuring the necessary incentives and systems and that these can progress can be measured, assessed and reported – but make sure this is aligned with corporate strategy and don’t assume that a CSR, HR or Comms dept. will be able to exert the necessary influence to deliver it, if production, operations and sales functions are not pulling in the same direction!
  3. Finally, there is the matter of measuring, managing and demonstrating attributable impacts, each of which has its own challenges, including how to collect and organise data, how to use data to drive performance and how to communicate and report progress – all of which is critical to implementing the strategy and realising the value.

Thankfully, technology is an ally in all of this, with modern computing power and the internet allowing data to be shared and analysed in large quantities, almost instantaneously. With the right software and set-up, performance against SDG targets can be centrally monitored, required improvements communicated to various business functions and overall progress readily communicated to internal and external stakeholders – an automated system, no less.

And yet so much data still collected on a spreadsheet, sent by email attachment and aggregated manually, with repeated iterations and report extractions.  This seems to be particularly the case for social impact, for example where organisations pursue goals through community investment, training or volunteering, resulting in inefficient or ineffective delivery of intended outcomes.

But it’s not only the Unilevers of this world who are using technology to facilitate action and communicate progress on the SDGs. International law firm Linklaters, who have a particular focus on Goal 16, are amongst an increasing number of innovative companies to use web-based software to manage and report on specific aspects such as their volunteering activities, for example.

Technology is essentially about better ways of doing things, and web-based technology is arguably the single most significant innovation for advancing corporate sustainability and the SDGs, the full potential of which has yet to be realised. Quite simply, companies need to make better use of it, now more than ever.