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Charity begins at … work?

How the charity sector works with the corporate sector to raise money and make a difference

Charity begins at home is the old saying, but charities have also been strongly dependent on corporate entities to assist with their fundraising goals over the years — a goal that’s become ever more important year-on-year. In addition, corporates can also provide charities with a wealth of expertise and manpower to support projects and initiatives. How does the charity sector enlist this help and how can corporates become more involved?

Working together

The charity sector works in conjunction with the corporate sector on many different levels, says Gráinne Kennedy, head of partnerships & philanthropy, Focus Ireland. “Focus Ireland engages with companies and their employees to align on our mission to end homelessness in Ireland. To do this, we need both financial support and skill-sharing expertise from the corporate sector.”

Mary Gamble, director of fundraising, marketing and communications at Barnardo’s, says the charity has several strategic partnerships which provide not only much-needed financial support for their work but a significant amount of support in the form of skills and expertise.

Charitable benefits

It goes without saying that charities benefit in multiple ways, whether from direct fundraising or initiatives. “Our retail partner Aldi Ireland works with us raising funds and also supports us by raising awareness of our brand,” says Gamble. “We work with their marketing, communications and sustainability team to deliver our Big Active campaign each year as well as a number of in-store fundraising activities and staff events.


“Our long-term partnership with Dell Technologies has given us access to a global network of experts in fields such as communications, cybersecurity and IT [information technology]. Their teams in Ireland are instrumental to us delivering practical help to children we work with a special focus on getting parents and children ready to go back to school each September.”

Kennedy agrees that the value of the partnership often goes beyond monetary. “An excellent example of a corporate partner sharing their expertise with Focus Ireland is from our biggest partner, Bord Gáis Energy. Recently, Bord Gáis Energy continued its vital support of Focus Ireland by providing a home energy upgrade programme for vulnerable families.

“Bord Gáis Energy installed new state-of-the-art boilers and smart heating controls in 13 homes in one of Focus Ireland’s Dublin-based supported family accommodation services. These home energy upgrades will save Focus Ireland €3,000 a year in costs.”

Benefits to the corporate

“A survey published in The Irish Times earlier this year found that one in five workers in Ireland believe their employer does not place a high priority on supporting charitable causes despite an overwhelming majority of employees indicating they would be more likely to consider a role with a company that does,” says Gamble. [In total] “81 per cent of workers said they feel it is important for businesses to support charity with close to two-thirds (64 per cent) indicating that taking part in charitable activities in work improves job satisfaction.

“The evidence is clear — doing good is good for business!”

Gamble says there are a variety of charity initiatives and partnerships in businesses across Ireland strongly supported by an underlying sense of generosity and empathy. “Barnardo’s has been approached by many organisations with offers of support, volunteering and help over this period and we are grateful to every single one of them. Because our work is based in Ireland, employees get to see first-hand the impact of their support.

“Businesses from every sector have pulled together to create magical childhood memories for children — from creating fabulous Santa’s Grottos in our centres to painting walls and planting beautiful flowers in our gardens. The smiles on the faces of the children we work with make it all worthwhile.”

Kennedy says every corporate partnership is different. “Some of the partnerships are very much led from the top down and others are driven by a charity committee or an individual within the organisation that is championing the cause. When a charity partnership is led from the top and fully integrated within the organisation, those partnerships tend to be the most successful in terms of fundraising and impact.

“When leaders show by example that they believe in the charity partnership, employees acknowledge that commitment by turning up and turning out for events and there is a genuine want to make the partnership as good as it can possibly be for the charity.”

Corporations benefit greatly from charity partnerships as they boost staff morale, provide opportunities for skill sharing, create team building and working together environments and, most importantly, they empower staff to make a real and lasting difference to the lives of people who need it most, says Kennedy. “Environmental, social and governance (ESG) policies are crucial for companies to attract and retain high-level employees. With this in mind, corporations are very aware of their social conscience and how they engage their employees through charity partnerships.”

How businesses can get involved

Focus Ireland is running their Sponsor A Star campaign, where they are calling on the support of the business community, from multinationals to family-run businesses to indigenous companies, in the fight to end homelessness.

“Companies who sponsor a star will display their logo proudly on the panels around our tree display in the middle of Grafton Street in Dublin as well as on our virtual Christmas tree at sponsorastar.focusireland.ie.”

  • To find out how your business can become a partner with Barnardos Ireland and create happy childhood memories for vulnerable children go to barnardos.ie or contact corporate@barnardos.ie.