Business Charity Awards: Corporate Foundation - Winner: Greggs Foundation

Awarded to a philanthropic foundation, set up by a business, that has supported the charity sector

Greggs Foundation
Greggs Foundation

FINALISTS
The Nationwide Foundation
Wates Giving

Greggs Foundation

The growth of the Greggs Foundation, set up 24 years ago, has mirrored the expansion of the national bakery chain to which it is intimately connected. It has also maintained a commitment to the communities where Greggs trades and to helping those most in need.

The foundation, whose grants help disadvantaged people and those in financial hardship, was established by Ian Gregg, the company's founder, to formalise and help to develop its charitable giving. In 1987, the foundation's first year, income was just under £9,000. By 2010, that had risen to £1.5m and, over the past five years, it has given £5m to charitable causes. Through the financial support of Greggs, the foundation is given the security and the ability to make grants over the long term.

Greggs is now a national chain with 1,400 shops in the UK - 200 more than McDonald's - but it began as a bakery on Tyneside in 1939 and is still based in Newcastle upon Tyne. Those regional roots are visible in the foundation's activities: its major grants fund is restricted to small charities in north-east England. In 2010, it awarded £453,783, which includes support for an advice centre in South Tyneside that has helped 40 families to keep their homes.

The Greggs Foundation is independent of the bakery company, but its link to Greggs enables it to use the knowledge and fundraising of the firm's 19,000 staff. They play a pivotal role in deciding where a significant proportion of grants go.

The foundation's regional grants programme provides awards of up to £2,000 for projects for disadvantaged people around the UK: in 2010, these totalled more than £400,000. Staff at Greggs are given time away from work to decide which organisations benefit the areas in which they live and work.

Greggs FoundationThey also participate as volunteers in the foundation's breakfast clubs, which provide free breakfasts to 7,000 children in disadvantaged areas around the country. In addition, they fundraise for the foundation. The company's first 'foundation week' in 2010 raised £66,000.

A common theme of the foundation's grants is help for people who are disadvantaged or suffering hardship. One recipient of money from the hardship fund, which supports people who are in severe financial difficulty, said: "When you are at rock bottom, all you can see is murky water. Your offer of help enabled me to lift my head and start trying again."

Peter Cardy, chief executive of Aquaterra Leisure and one of the category judges, praised "the localness of the shops and their giving and the engagement of Greggs' staff. There is fabulous neighbourhood charitable activity and great sandwiches."

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