If asked to think about the phrase ‘big business’, words like merger, acquisition and shareholder would most probably spring to mind. Very rarely do I consider the great efforts that companies make to assist charitable causes in this country.
It’s a sad fact that in this post-recession era, where banks are berated for their bonus schemes and news items focus on company profit margins, the significant contribution businesses make to helping charitable causes in the UK is often overlooked.
Wednesday night’s launch of the inaugural Business Charity Awards made significant steps to change all that. The event, a collaboration between Third Sector magazine, The Institute of Fundraising and Mandate as headline sponsor, aimed to recognise the partnerships that have developed between UK businesses and the voluntary sector.
The event was a huge success – not just because of the superb job that the BBC’s Huw Edwards did as Master of Ceremonies – but more importantly because of the number of company representatives present from across a range of industries – 350 in all.
The standard of entries was extremely high and judges had to pick 13 winners from a pool of over 40 finalists for the event which took place at Grosvenor House, Park Lane. The DHL UK Foundation won the coveted ‘Charitable Foundation’ award for its commitment to educating children in schools on road safety, while The Co-operative Group scooped both the ‘Employment Scheme’ Award for its work with Mencap, and the ‘UK Project’ award for its Street Games programme.
But the awards don’t just acknowledge company-wide achievements. The two individual categories for ‘Business Charity Champion’ and ‘Outstanding Individual’ were both won by capital fund boss Richard Bernstein for his unrivalled efforts to harness support for the voluntary sector. The Eurovestech Chief Executive fought off tough competition, even beating celebrity entrant Duncan Bannatyne.
Comments made by Nick Hurd MP, the Minister for Civil Society, who was present, will only serve to strengthen the need for the Business Charity Awards in years to come. He said he hoped to create stronger ties between the private and voluntary sectors, which mirrors the aims of the awards ceremony. Providing a platform to celebrate these impressive business/charity collaborations can only encourage other companies to get involved.