Poor access to decision makers heads charity corporate gripes

Anita Pati

More than half of charities claim limited access to decision makers is a factor frustrating their attempts to work with the corporate sector, according to new research by Business in the Community (BITC).

The survey of 85 charities, which was published at Third Sector's corporate social responsibility conference last week, also revealed that 17 per cent of charities believe companies have a low level of respect for them.

Tim Bishop, partnerships manager at BITC, said that charities were keen to look for more creative ways of engaging with companies, but most felt they needed help with this.

Charities' second greatest complaint about working with the corporate sector, cited by 38 per cent of respondents, was the business world's limited understanding of how charities work, combined with unrealistic project times.

Another 28 per cent said they felt frustrated by limited access to resources, and one in five said a lack of shared goals could also blight relationships.

Bishop outlined how BITC has shifted its cause-related marketing (CRM) campaign into a different stage by modelling a new concept called cause-related business (CRB).

He said: "A more sustainable approach is to look at the way your business can relate all of its activities back to the charitable cause, not just the marketing of the product."

CRB could include CRM, he added, but it would also make use of gifts in kind, payroll giving, employee volunteering and sponsorship to strengthen partnerships early on.

He said CRB would build on honest, longer-term relationships, put staff at the heart of the agenda, be more holistic and inject passion into every activity.

Bishop added that CRB was more compatible with a new definition of CSR, which encompasses a firm's approach to managing its business processes, both internally and in its wider impacts on stakeholders in the community.

The notion of "chequebook philanthropy plus PR" has become redundant, he said.

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