Five steps to successful community investment
Now more than ever, communities need businesses to invest in and support them. Business in the Community’s Communities Adviser Jodie Cross outlines the first essential steps to create good partnerships.
The massive social disruption caused by COVID-19 has been felt disproportionately in our communities due to existing inequalities across race, class, age, and place. The recovery offers important lessons as we face the continuing and potentially even bigger challenges of social resilience, equity, and the climate crisis.
Businesses up to now have played a vital role in harnessing support through volunteering, funding, partnerships, and their own products and services. Cross-sector investment and collaboration are crucial to bringing about positive change.
At a time when life expectancy is falling in some places1 and poverty rates are on the rise, we now face the biggest cut to social security2 this autumn. This will hit working families the hardest in places that are already suffering and will push millions of more individuals and families into poverty. It is now crucial that businesses work strategically, with long-term community investment, in places and with the people that need it most.
Here are five top tips to enable your business to maximise strategic community investment:
- Investing time and money upfront on understanding the challenges. Research and data gathering are the first step of any project or collaboration but is often missed out in community investment.
- Stakeholder engagement. Build networks with community experts to aid your knowledge of places, people and the issues that are material to your business.
- Identify partners and initiatives that understand the landscape and know what is the best way to tackle key social issues in chosen places.
- Be clear on what you are trying to achieve. To build impact led work you need a strong goal orientated narrative and strategy with clear milestones to test and track whether your interventions are working.
- Co-ordinate a needs-led programme of spend and investment that is informed by your research and strategy, committed to the long term and demonstrates how your business can contribute through its core products, services, operations and people.
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1 The Guardian (2021) ‘Jaw-dropping’ fall in life expectancy in poor areas of England, report finds, 30 June 2021
2 Joseph Rowntree Foundation (2021) UK heading for the biggest overnight cut to the basic rate of social security since World War II, 23 July 2021