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Seven ways companies provided charitable support during the pandemic

DSC’s latest research shows that companies committed at least £281 million in financial and in-kind support to UK charities and keyworkers during the pandemic.

The social and economic impact of Covid-19 has been enormous, with charities facing substantial challenges. Many fundraising activities have been cancelled and staff and volunteers have been forced to reduce, meaning that charities are faced with serving potentially more beneficiaries with fewer resources.

While researching the latest edition of The Guide to UK Company Giving, we found that despite navigating their own challenges, 42% of the 401 companies featured in the guide provided Covid-related support between March and November 2020.

Here are seven ways that those companies have been providing support to charities and frontline workers during the pandemic:

Financial support

Of those that provided support, 60% gave one or more types of financial support, including grants to new or existing charity partners; grants to emergency appeals; and/or funding distributed through grants programmes administered by themselves or their corporate charity. The largest Covid-specific grant programme was Barclay’s £100 million Covid-19 Community Aid Package, of which £45 million had been distributed to charities by June 2020.

Personal donations from board members

Our findings show that board members and executives from ten companies donated between 10% and 33% of their salaries for up to six-months during the pandemic in support of charitable causes. Examples include directors from Schroders and Vodaphone who donated 25% of their salaries for three-months, and three of Barclays’ board members who contributed 33% of their salaries for six-months.

Donations of PPE

In response to the immediate demand for personal protective equipment (PPE) across the UK, companies stepped up to donate or produce PPE for healthcare providers and frontline workers. A great example of this was Kingfisher plc (which includes B&Q and Screwfix) which donated £500,000 worth of masks, goggles and visors to the NHS. In addition, Dunelm and Cadbury paused their production lines to produce surgical scrubs and hand sanitiser.

Alleviating hunger

With reliance on emergency food services increasing dramatically during the pandemic, it is unsurprising that many companies, particularly those in the food and grocery sector, chose to donate or help deliver food to good causes. The Trussell Trust reported seeing a 47% increase in demand for emergency food parcels between April and September 2020 compared to the same period in 2019.

Examples of support from companies included Tesco plc which pledged to donate £15 million worth of food to FareShare and The Trussell Trust alongside a £500,000 cash donation to each organisation, and TK Maxx and HomeSense which collectively donated £3 million of food products to foodbanks and medical charities. Additionally, 1,700 British Gas engineers helped The Trussell Trust deliver 4 million meals to people’s doors, and Scottish Power funded an electric van used by volunteers to deliver essentials to vulnerable people in remote Scottish villages.

Warburtons also committed to support FareShare into the Christmas period by launching tasty looking crumpet slippers, with 100% of proceeds donated to the charity.

Combatting loneliness with technology

Video calls, Zoom quizzes and Tik Tok dances are now synonymous with the pandemic, but many people faced the challenges of isolation without access to technology. Companies helped to alleviate the loneliness felt by those in quarantine or hospital with donations of laptops, tablets and phones. Dixons Carphone also donated £99,000 worth of devices and SIM cards to Age UK’s Silver Line helpline and directly to elderly isolated people.

Donating space

While many companies donate space and facilities to charities as part of their regular Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities, this was a popular choice of giving during the pandemic. Examples included donations of temporary rent-free accommodation for homeless people; provision of hotel accommodation and free parking for healthcare workers; and donation of warehouse space for charities and hospitals to store or package PPE and food parcels.

Free services and expertise

Many charities and keyworkers have benefited from free access to services, products and expertise from companies during the pandemic. Stagecoach offered free transport services to NHS workers; Jaguar Landrover loaned 57 vehicles to British Red Cross teams in the UK; National Grid offered up its social media accounts for charities to publicise their appeals; and employees at the communications company WWP plc developed public awareness campaigns pro bono for The World Health Organisation to help limit the spread of Covid.

The Guide to UK Company Giving – 2020/21 contains information on 401 companies that collectively give around £480 million in cash donations and in-kind support. Both voluntary organisations seeking support from corporates, and companies looking to develop their community giving strategy should own this indispensable guide. Research organisations and individuals investigating UK corporate giving and CSR will also need this key resource. Get your copy of The Guide to UK Company Giving here.