Earlier in July we hosted a workshop for Heart of the City members on developing a community programme. Lots of businesses want to support their communities more than ever, but they’re also facing bigger challenges to offer support because of Covid.
We discussed those challenges during the workshop, and our membership team has been collating them and have offered some solutions that small businesses can put in place.
People want to do something but they’re not sure how:
- Ultimately, you need to do what’s right for your business and your people in the current climate.
- The thought processes behind running a community programme are the same are the same as before Covid. You’ll just need to adapt and be sensitive to current situations – there are lots of Covid-related community initiatives supporting the most vulnerable and isolating people. Have a look at how your business could support the Trussell Trust‘s food banks across the UK, or see if your local giving scheme is running a Covid-related campaign.
- If you don’t know where to start with supporting your community, use our awareness dates calendar to tie in your first few community initiatives.
- If you’d like to work with a community partner, have a look at our guide to finding the best partner for your business.
Engagement and participation numbers are lower when people are working remotely:
- Ask your teams what they’d like to do. If you include your employees in deciding what your community support will be like, they’re more likely to stay involved.
- Use our employee survey to get everyone’s feedback – then you’ll know you’re on the right track.
- Everybody’s situations are different, especially at the moment. To get as many people as possible on board, run a few different activities with varying levels of employee commitment.
- Celebrate your employees and share stories about what they’re already doing. Covid has seen a lot of people starting to volunteer in the communities they live in. This means you might find that some of your employees are already getting involved in community support in their own time. You should share their stories to build on their enthusiasm and encourage others.
It’s difficult to replicate in-person events when going virtual:
- Have a look at what charities are suggesting you do to move to virtual fundraising.
- Heart of the City ambassador Ashurst has developed a guide to virtual volunteering. It has lots of ideas such as telephone buddying for isolate older people and reading online with primary school children.
SMEs have less money to dedicate to community support at the moment:
- You can still support the community without offering money – are there any ways you could give pro bono support? Run through our responsible business sweet spot exercise to identify which community areas resonate with your business and where any skilled volunteering would make sense.
- There are lots of free activities you can start to the support the community:
- Give your employees time off for blood donations.
- Open spaces are very busy at the moment so you could arrange a lunchtime rubbish pick-up. This works well for remote workers too – make it a competition between teams to see who can collect the most!
- Offer virtual work experience – get some tips in our resource on making virtual internships a success.
- Bridge the digital divide – lots of young people don’t have access to devices or the internet. You could donate unwanted tech and join the campaign to ensure the entire UK is thriving in a digital world by 2028.