Focus: Corporate Responsibility - Side by side

In 2004, the publisher Sweet & Maxwell reacted to its employees' wish for a bigger role in the local community by choosing the Cleft Lip and Palate Association (Clapa) as its official charitable partner in a CSR programme. The partnership focuses more on skills and resource exchange than on donations.

GARETH DAVIES, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, CLAPA

Why did you choose this partnership?

Sweet & Maxwell was considering charities for its CSR programme. We fitted its criteria for a small local charity with a national remit.

How do you benefit from it?

It allows an external body to give an objective picture of areas where we are lacking - particularly with PR and long-term strategic planning.

Do you have wider aims for the partnership?

This is a relationship about skills exchange. Sweet & Maxwell looks at it as an opportunity that allows its staff to try jobs they wouldn't normally do. For instance, we publish a magazine for young people and it provided us with a guest editor for one issue.

Did you have any reservations?

I was concerned that we'd be patronised by a big company trying to be friendly to a small charity. In practice, however,the relationship has been very professional.

MILAN TAYLOR, DIRECTOR AND PROGRAMME SPONSOR, SWEET & MAXWELL

Why did you choose this partnership?

We wanted to respond to our staff's desire to get more involved with the community - a trend we've noticed elsewhere - and Clapa was a local charity in north London.

How do you benefit from it?

Employees have the opportunity to develop in ways not always available in corporate life. People commit more to a business if they can express themselves through a wider variety of activities.

Do you have wider aims for the partnership?

As a result of its success, we're looking to build more fundraising partnerships with other NGOs this year.

Did you have any reservations?

We didn't want to over-promise and under-deliver, but this hasn't happened.

We work with Clapa very closely to make sure we're providing the type of skills it requires as it develops and evolves.

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