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Are South West Businesses engaged in the Community?

March 13, 2012

The Business Unusual team believes that all companies can benefit from undertaking community engagement activities that are related to their core business – from large communications firms to small web design agencies.

Based in London and Bristol, their bespoke service takes into consideration a company’s assets so that they can connect with the local community in a meaningful and sustainable way by:

·         Capturing the energy, enthusiasm and skills of employees

·         Harnessing the scope of external stakeholder relationships

·         Maximising the potential of physical resources, products and services.

A recent survey in Bristol assessed the local businesses to see how they met these criteria.

South West businesses put community engagement on the agenda

90% of small and medium sized businesses in the South West have

‘community engagement and socially responsible business practices on the agenda in the coming year’

according to a survey undertaken by Business Unusual at a recent Best of Bristol Business Exhibition.

Win-win community engagement examples

A significant proportion of businesses surveyed recognise the benefits of community engagement, such as raising their profile and enhancing their reputation. Examples of win-win activities include:

Winning business: An IT solutions company provides their clients with the opportunity to donate their old equipment to local charities and schools. The company makes the logistical arrangements and identifies suitable charities to benefit if their client agrees to upgrade their IT systems.

Improving reputation of service: A business networking company offers a free platform to local charities during their events, allowing them to reach out to the local business community and raise awareness of local issues.

Building a loyal local customer base: A food business specialising in organic and local produce is hosting a six month supported work experience placement within it’s café which was arranged in partnership with their neighbour – a local women’s charity. In addition to improving the skills of staff members, the café owner has reported an increase in local customers as a result of their partnership with the charity.

Businesses would benefit from better awareness of community engagement opportunities

The majority of businesses surveyed focused on fundraising activities and were interested to hear from Business Unusual that there are a range of other creative ways to engage with their local community. A smaller proportion of businesses consulted are engaging their employees in volunteering activities and a minority are offering work placements or sharing their products and services.

Business Unusual are very interested to hear from companies that would like advice or ideas about how they can adopt a range of community engagement activities that will enhance their business and impact on their local community.

Business Unusual survey summary:

1) What do ‘Best of Bristol’ companies do to support their local communities?

70% undertake fundraising activities

30% involve their employees in volunteering

20% offer products and resources for free or pro-bono

20% engage in local recruitment and/or offer work experience placements

2) What are their main motivations for getting involved?

70% to raise the profile and improve reputation of their business

60% to contribute towards strengthening their local communities

40% to raise employee morale and motivation

10% to develop their employee’s skills

10% to increase competitiveness

3) Do businesses involve clients and/or suppliers in community engagement activities?

 60% Don’t involve clients/suppliers

40% Do involve clients/suppliers

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