Making a difference

CSR | Mon 8 Jun | Author – Business & Finance One Percent for Difference Campaign
Ronan O’Gara, ex Irish international rugby player and Clodagh McKenna, chef, food writer and TV presenter with Alisia and Marek Doyle from Marino

Maurice Healy, founder and CEO of the Healy Group, highlights the value of an effective giving programme in businesses.

Giving is good for business. It gives the management and staff a sense of pride in the company they work for; it improves employee morale, it increases employee retention and builds trust and loyalty from customers.

While businesses have experienced a few tough years, there are strong signs of recovery with an increasing sense of optimism.

Confidence is returning, to both business and the consumer, bringing a renewed sense of purpose and forward momentum.

With this confidence comes the belief that we can all begin to plan again and look to the future. We can think about the type of country we want to live in, the shape of our society, how we can contribute and how we can benefit. I am firmly of the opinion that we all, managers and staff alike, want an Ireland that is not just a great place to do business but a great place to live and work. Business can play a real role in creating a better, fairer Ireland.

A successful society relies on the efforts of business, government and civil society working together. As citizens, business leaders have as much a stake in the future of Ireland as their fellow countrymen/women.

NOT-FOR-PROFIT

The not-for-profit sector makes a massive contribution to Irish society. We have a huge diversity of organisations, committed to a range of activities and impacting on a spectrum of beneficiaries, both in Ireland and abroad. Indeed, it is likely that all of us have benefitted, either directly or indirectly, from the work of these organisations.

They range from larger well-known names to smaller niche organisations. They span all sectors – health, education, culture, enterprise, equality, environment, technology and many more. Throughout the recession their services and support were called on more than ever.

A recent initiative, The Funding Network, organised by Philanthropy Ireland in association with law firm Matheson, showed that there is a wealth of worthwhile initiatives being undertaken by lesser-known groups – all eagerly seeking the right support.

CORPORATE GIVING

The One Percent Difference campaign is designed to tap into the desire of Irish citizens and Irish business to make a difference. At Philanthropy Ireland, we are asking every Irish business and person to give 1% of their time or money to a cause they believe in.

While giving can be one of the easiest things to do, giving effectively can be much more difficult. Corporate giving should be thoughtful, strategic and have a focus on long-term results. Companies should not just think in terms of giving money but also their people’s time and commercial acumen to fully support a cause. Engaging strategically with a cause time can make a real difference.

Good causes need involvement, investment and business leadership. Investment, be it time, money, talent or product/service, can be the lifeblood of many organisations. If a business is prepared to enter into a long-term relationship with a good cause, directing efforts of both business owners and employees’ efforts to effectively support that cause, it can have a major impact.

Many causes are over reliant on State funding, creating a difficulty for real independence of direction of activity. Corporate giving, similar to individual giving, can help ensure causes retain independence, create efficiencies of operation and all together leave them better placed to make a real impact and deliver results.

Strategic giving is the key to impact. It creates space for the cause to concentrate on forward planning and implementation. It allows you and your company to engage with the cause, providing a greater level of understanding. This in time creates a deeper sense of making a difference.

LEADING ON GIVING

While we are a generous nation, Ireland has a long way to go in terms of creating the kind of culture of philanthropy and giving that exists elsewhere. But, as evidenced through existing giving programmes in many Irish businesses, active corporate support is well poised to make a significant impact on philanthropy and giving in Ireland.

So what are the benefits? My company, The Healy Group, invests 20% of its profits in good causes. We have seen employee engagement with the firm soar since we took that decision. Our employees are proud of that contribution and that supports our bottom line. People who work with us stay with us.

Our customers recognise our contribution and value it. I am active on a number of boards including Traidlinks, Irish Chamber Orchestra, Social Entrepreneurs Ireland and Philanthropy Ireland. I have learnt a great deal by serving on these boards. In the process I have sourced new products, new customers and I have enjoyed every minute of it.

You, your company and your team can make a real difference. Show your support for good giving by joining the One Percent Difference and helping to shape the future of Ireland.

Maurice HealyAbout the author

Maurice Healy is founder and CEO of the Healy Group, a solutions-driven agent and distributor for a number of manufacturers worldwide.

He is also actively involved in the social enterprise and charity sector in Ireland. 

For more information, email hello@onepercentdifference.ie