Our approach to giving and charitable activities has been a key element of Arrows Group’s growth.
I may be miles behind the big firms who have been doing this for years, but my experience has been that most SME’s are not benefitting properly from the ultimate win-wins that committing to a cause can give you. So, I thought I would share our story on this and back up the opening statement above!
We recently ran a campaign called ‘Donate Your Day’ – a partnership between the Arrows Group Foundation and War Child – and whilst putting this together I go to meet lots of SME’s and they all had one thing in common: they had the appetite for CSR and making a difference but struggled with execution – basically too busy, didn’t know where to start/ who to support or lacked a focal point to drive it internally. Sound familiar?
We were in a similar place for quite a while – there was a definite appetite at Arrows Group to support a charity and this came both from a sense of responsibility but also from pressure from our staff to answer questions around how we make a positive impact as a business. We flicked from one charity event to another and I seemed to be constantly running/ cycling / climbing and constantly hitting-up my patient friends and family for £50 / £100 to support causes I was not familiar with. Whilst this is a great start it didn’t enable us to make a lasting impact and at times wore a bit thin with my mates! Equally as important was the fact that it didn’t unlock any of the commercial benefits that having a strategic approach to giving can …well…give you!
With all of this in mind we set up the Arrows Group Foundation in 2015 which is charity focussed in supporting, protecting and educating disadvantaged children around the world. So far we have been involved in a number of projects from funding girls orphanages in inner city Delhi to helping local kids coming into the London workplace and most lately partnering with War Child to protect children caught up in conflict zones.
The first major impact this has had is how it allowed us to really focus our efforts on specific causes and make a genuine impact to the causes we have chosen. By committing to these projects long-term, we get to appreciate the difference we can make and this in turn motivates the whole business to continue and do more. Which brings us to the real benefits this brings to our business and our growth. By having a strong, well marketed approach to giving over time, this starts to generate a real ‘halo effect’ for our brand and how it is perceived to the outside world. Now, whilst the overriding priority is to raise money for the causes that need it most, every business also has one eye on the commercial benefits that CSR programmes can bring – so this is nothing new.
In a crowded industry like ours where brand differentiation and confidence are key, our foundation work has been very effective. It is a strong message for our Employee Value Proposition and supports us in attracting, retaining, developing and ultimately engaging our staff which is essential for lasting growth. More and more at interview stage we are being asked about ‘WHY’ we do what we do rather than just ‘what’ and ‘how’ and this gives us a practical way to demonstrate our purpose as a business.
It also gives us different ways to connect to our clients and contractors other than purely service provision. A few of our key clients are engaged with the work our foundation does and I am sure this will give us a deeper relationship which will be there for when we need it.
Finally, I think it gives our sector as a whole some decent PR. I am really proud that over 20 other recruitment companies joined us on ‘Donate Your Day’ by working for free on June 20th (World Refugee Day) and making a huge difference to people who really do need our help. This reflects so well on our sector and I think next year – with a bit more planning – could be much bigger and I hope we really move the needle for our collective industry image.
Thanks so much for everyone who got involved…and to War Child for putting on a great party!
By James Parsons
CEO Arrows Group, Trustee Arrows Group Foundation.
Arrows Group. Work Hard. Deliver Excellence. Make a Difference.