Businesses must embed themselves deeper into local communities

With new research showing that 84% of consumers are likely to trust businesses more that support local causes, and vulnerable communities facing mounting hardship in coming months, businesses must increase their support for local communities.

Businesses must embed themselves deeper into local communities

With new research showing that 84% of consumers are likelyto trust businesses more that support local causes, and vulnerable communitiesfacing mounting hardship in coming months, businesses must increase theirsupport for local communities.

Support from business of all sizes and sectors has proved essential in helping good causes to protect vulnerable people across the UK since the start of the coronavirus crisis. From companies providing financial donations and products, to adapting and innovating to get much needed services to good causes, there are extraordinary examples across the country. 

As a community investment platform that connects nearly 15,000 local causes to support from businesses including M&S, Aldi, Lidl, Coca Cola, Danone and Samsung, we’ve seen first-hand the critical difference that national business support makes. Our network of business partners has helped food banks, domestic abuse charities, elderly care groups and numerous other causes to increase their support for vulnerable people by more than 100 per cent over the last six months, so that vital help reaches those people most in need quickly. Causes in our network have told us that business support has enabled them to provide for the most vulnerable and marginalised residents, ensuring that no one was left behind.

But with hunger, unemployment and mental health problems continuing to rise across the UK, and levels of extreme poverty predicted to double by Christmas, now is the time for businesses to step up, not step back.   

Business trust is linked to local relevance

This isn’t just about doing the right thing ‘ it’s about securing a better future for business too. Businesses must be active, authentic and meaningful partners with their local community if they are to build long term trust and relevance with their employees and customers. People want to help those around them and are rewarding businesses who are making a visible difference in their neighbourhood.

With extreme hardship across the UK, and the need for a recovery that leaves no one behind, consumers want businesses to be part of the solution. More than ever, people want to buy from, invest in and work for businesses they believe in and trust.

Our new research with YouGov illustrates this, with 82% of consumers saying they are more likely to trust a company that contributes to where they live or work. In addition, 84% of respondents say they are more likely to trust businesses that support local charities, compared to just 46% for those that support international charities and 70% for national charities.

Businesses won’t surviveunless communities thrive

Never has there been a greater need to respect and respond to the knowledge of local charities and community groups. With regional lockdowns and the additional pressures of winter threatening to push more families and individuals into difficulty, businesses need to help keep community lifelines alive. Local charities and groups, who are already part of the fabric of our communities, are best placed to use their intimate local knowledge to react and respond quickly to what’s needed; they know people on a named basis and understand who needs help in their neighbourhood. 

In practice, this means more businesses helping grassroots organisations to provide the support that they are best placed to give: from donating surplus food to foodbanks to encouraging staff to provide vital skills and support to good causes by volunteering their time from home.

Business support for communities must be ingrained andsustained

The pandemic has strengthened the sense of community spirit across the UK and we need that to continue. Polling from June showed that only 6% of the British public want things to go back to how they were before the pandemic; there is a clear desire to ensure a more equitable and sustainable approach to business and the economy. The feelings of common purpose and shared endeavour need to be built on, not wrapped up, and businesses can lead the way. 

Business support for communities must be ingrained and sustained. Thriving communities mean thriving businesses and a thriving economy – the link between our communities and our businesses, charities and policy makers needs to be stronger than ever before if we are to successfully respond to and rebuild from this crisis.

Local community causes are key to all our recovery and future and it’s all of our responsibility to help them. Businesses must act locally if they are to maintain their relevance and be a trusted part of the solution.

Steve Butterworth
Steve Butterworth

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