Giving can bring dividends

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The Independent Online
COMPANIES are increasingly involved in community projects for commercial rather than philanthropic reasons, according to a survey of the UK's largest groups, writes Roger Trapp.

The survey, Beyond Charitable Giving - Board Policy on Community Involvement, was conducted by the management consultancy Bain & Company, in conjunction with Business in the Community.

The findings were presented to last Tuesday's annual meeting of the Per Cent Club, the arm of Business in the Community launched by the Prince of Wales six years ago to promote corporate giving.

The organisation is composed of about 500 leading companies that are committed to contributing at least half a per cent of their UK pre-tax profits or 1 per cent of dividends to the community.

The survey, which targeted Britain's 500 largest companies and covered all sectors, reported several key findings.

Although 82 per cent of respondents indicated that they had some form of policy on community involvement, only 26 per cent had a formal board policy.

Companies with a formal policy appeared to be significantly more successful in this area.

Companies are finding that community involvement is a particularly successful and cost-effective way of building employee morale, creating the right employer image and assisting the development and recruitment of staff.

Business management and planning are the keys to success in the field. Companies that set targets, monitor progress frequently and allocate specific responsibility are significantly more likely to succeed than those that do not.

'Community involvement is moving on,' said the report's author, Crawford Gillies, a partner at Bain & Company. 'No longer just about giving to charity. No longer just done through altruism or a vague sense of obligation.

'Community involvement can and should be part of a business's mainstream activities. The sooner companies recognise it as such and manage it like any other business activity, the more successful they will be.'

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