Our colleague, Sarah Stoten attended an Association of Jersey Charities lunchtime webinar – ‘Government and the Third Sector: A finely balanced but crucial relationship’ on Tuesday. Sarah took away a number of interesting points about the challenges the Third Sector faces when delivering services for Government and what value should be placed on these relationships and the return they offer. Contributors included, Ben Shenton from Age Concern Jersey, Mike Palfreman from Jersey Hospice Care and Fiona Vacher from the Jersey Child Care Trust and the Chair, Kevin Keen.
Aside from some of the main difficulties faced by charities in Jersey i.e. generated and sustaining funding, maintaining appropriate governance and responding to the increasing levels of demand due to rising costs of living and poverty, one topic resonated with Sarah, attracting volunteers.
Great volunteers make a purposeful and valuable impact for charities especially when paid resources are so difficult to afford and retain. It was clear that the volunteers these charities employed were highly regarding and contributed massively to the core operations of the charities represented. But volunteering extends into the corporate social responsibilities that many organisations readily promote, sometimes this responsibility is not matched with real impact despite being well meant and deemed rewarding by those that participate. Anecdotally, Fiona Vacher referenced a charity in London that kept a wall clear for sponsors to paint if they visited for a CSR day. Organised events where staff carry out set tasks the charity may have struggled to complete are wonderful ways to contribute using the most precious of resources, time. But, what if companies thought harder about what they had to offer and how their own core services could enhance a charity’s offering?
Whilst not discouraging the regular beach cleans, warehouse tidies and merchandise clad gangs pictured ‘paying back’, the wall painting example made Sarah think, what other skills can organisations offer to charities? Could lawyers working pro bono help define a charity constitution or legal set-up costs? Tech companies might code a new CRM or, like Magellan, offer a set amount of time to assist with strategy development or specific change initiatives / projects. During the first year of three working as partner to the Jersey Employment Trust, we hope that by offering our change management time and continuous improvement focus, we have helped to make a difference by allowing senior staff to deliver front line services and scope to think deeply about growth and opportunities. As Penny Shurmer edges nearer to her first 100 days as CEO, we also look forward to developing ideas for the best use of our time to help her and colleagues realise priorities for the future.
Our colleagues at Magellan support a number of charities through fund raising, running sports clubs or holding Board positions, this is facilitated through time released during working hours and in many cases sponsorship directly from Magellan Consultancy. Its important to us to generate relationships with the charities we support and we want this to be genuine, based on what the charity tells us they really need, long lasting and impactful because it matters to us and to the people who work for us.
The Government owes a debt to charities that provide so many services and likewise so does Jersey’s corporate community. When you are thinking about your next CSR event or day offered to staff, think about what longer term relationships you can develop where your USP or skillset could also benefit a charity struggling to meet a need within their organisation that ultimately will go a long way to meet the need of the community they serve.
So, the take away from the webinar is to consider innovative ways you and your staff can contribute to the Third Sector. Please don’t stop fundraising and sponsorship but do that little extra, that wall doesn’t need an extra coat of paint!