Working with businesses is essential for charities

By Julian Mines (pictured), FareShare South West CEO

“Working with businesses has changed the game for FareShare South West, and in turn for hundreds experiencing food poverty across the region.”

While businesses often collaborate with other businesses to further their mission, charities can lack the creative or commercial thinking needed to make effective partnerships, which may help them find meaningful solutions to the causes they are fighting for. It is undoubtable that charities

would benefit from working with partners from the commercial world, but this often requires a shift in perspective. FareShare South West’s day to day ‘business’ is food and we couldn’t exist without the support of national supermarkets, food producers and local food businesses who supply us with the high quality in-date surplus food we then redistribute to those most in need. We’ve also increased our

engagement with non-food related local businesses who want to support us with fundraising and awareness raising. We have to be bold and entrepreneurial about what we can offer to make this CSR meaningful and valuable as well as leveraging creative fundraising ideas and resources. From surplus food banquets enjoyed by staff, to corporate team members spending a day volunteering with the team in our warehouse, to ‘Ready, Steady, Cook’ style surplus food cook-off events and even contactless donation points in company cafeterias, FareShare South West is always looking for new ways to engage corporate teams. We’re fortunate to be

surrounded by multiple businesses 24 insight MAY/JUNE 2019

Business West employees rolled up their sleeves and spent the day volunteering at the FareShare South West warehouse last Christmas. This inspirational and fast- growing charity diverts unwanted fresh food from supermarkets to 170 diverse local projects around the region such as homeless charities, women’s refuges, dry-out clinics and pensioners’ lunches. Mary Martin, director of

marketing, who took part in the volunteer day, said: “This is a fantastic charity

that really epitomises the ‘win:win’ scenario – charities benefit from really good food and the supermarkets have an outlet for food that they cannot use. It was such a productive day for us, and we loved meeting the other volunteers and staff. We are proud to support the good work that they do in the region and all of us are determined for it not to be a one-off – we will be back!”

Volunteers from Business West

who really care about this region wide issue of food poverty and have valuable existing partnerships with a number small to large scale businesses, which are central to our success.

“Making a charity a financially viable operation is a constant consideration for those leading these organisations”

Charities face an increasingly

competitive fundraising market, along with decreasing statutory funding, so ensuring a charity can continue to run is one of the biggest challenges facing charity CEOs. Having worked with a number of organisations across my career, I have recognised the need

Golden Hillock Holiday Kitchen



A Pepper Pot beneficiary

for mindsets amongst staff and Trustees to shift allowing charities to adopt aspects associated with both ‘social enterprise models’ – which in turn have been inspired by more traditional business models. For example, at FareShare South West we have found a way of providing a service where there’s enough value in that service to develop a membership

income from the organisations and charities who benefit from our redistributed surplus food. This equates to a third of our income, whilst allowing substantial cost savings to our recipient members, which alleviates the pressure on traditional fundraising and at the same time delivers our core activity. We’re also employing the kind of entrepreneurial spirit, often found and championed in businesses, to explore new products, services or markets for existing activity. We did not think there would be a way of getting the high-quality surplus food we are donated out to the general public, but 2019 will see the launch of our ‘pantry model’ – a bit like the Co-Op of old – with membership- based outlets run from community

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