Skip To The Main Content

Opinion: How giving to charity makes good business sense


By Danny Witter, CEO and co-founder of Work for Good 

For a long time, business giving has been the domain of corporate giants such as John Lewis.

What may have started as a philanthropic venture, however, has also proved good business sense. According to research firm Milward Brown, businesses with a clear ‘brand purpose’, those seen to be making lives better, grew three times faster in value on average during the past 12 years. Smaller businesses risk being left behind.

Many smaller businesses do want to give back to society, but it’s not always easy without designated corporate social responsibility (CSR) resources. Everyday pressures take over, and good intentions can fall by the wayside. But what if all sizes of businesses could give to charity in a way that’s good for their business, too? We surveyed people from businesses and charities to see why charitable giving still seems to be the preserve of the large enterprise. 

One in four businesses surveyed have yet to give, with a failure to see the benefits being a significant factor in making this decision. Of the businesses that do give regularly to charities, though, two-thirds saw positive impacts on profitability, and the more they gave, the more benefits they reported. Those that donated more than 0.5 per cent of turnover were twice as likely to report enhancements in company reputation, and nearly 50 per cent more likely to see it help recruit and retain staff.

If 5 per cent of UK SMEs donated one day’s revenue a year, it would raise an extra quarter of a billion pounds for good causes. But with half of charities surveyed struggling to reach SMEs, it’s clear a better solution is needed to connect the charity and business worlds. In response, we created the Work for Good platform to make giving easy, flexible and beneficial for SMEs and the charities they support.

Rupert Pick came up with idea after the birth of his daughter Ottie. Ottie was born 10 weeks premature, weighing less than 3lbs and with two genetic conditions that affect her bones and heart. There was little he could do to help her as she lay in intensive care, but he could do something to give back to the people caring for her.

Time was short and fundraising options limited, so Rupert decided to donate the fees from his next workshop to the hospital. It made him wonder about all the other things that could happen if more businesses gave through work.

Work for Good aims to make it easy for businesses to give, and takes care of associated legal and admin tasks. Businesses sign up and choose how they want to give – some businesses choose a day and give all or a percentage of what they earn on that day; others give a percentage of their fees for a specific client or project to a specific cause, or a percentage of sales from one or all products. You then choose a charity from the list, or nominate a new charity.

Since its launch early in 2017, the platform has signed up nearly 500 business and charity members, from well-known charities to local causes. Business members span most sectors. BTE Automotive, a business in Hampshire, for example, is donating £1 for every MOT it undertakes this year – and is on track to raise more than £3,500 for local community causes.