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I ask not what you can do for the charity, but what can the charity do for you?

Jo Hockey shares with us why its good for your business to get to know your local charities;

“I will start with a little story that really quite shocked me when I attended my first network meeting as a charity employee.

Having run my own business and also after spending many years working for large financial services companies, I was no stranger to networking meetings. I liked the buzz of walking into a room full of people you had not met before and making connections with different people from all walks of life. Indeed, I have some very great friends who I have met through networking meetings over the years.

I went to my first networking meeting representing Headway Essex, feeling quite buoyant and full of expectation. Having grabbed my coffee, I started to look around the room for any people looking open to join in conversation. A woman caught my eye and smiled and off I went to start to chat. I had no visible signs around me to say that I worked for a charity, so I guess I lulled her into a false sense of security! “Hello” I said, “I am Joanne Hockey and I work” for Headway Essex. “Ooh” said the woman “Headway Essex, what do they do?”  “We are a charity who provides support for people with acquired brain injury”. Not even managing to mask the look of disappointment on her face, she then went on in a flustered way to say, “I am sorry but we have already given away some of our products for free for charities and can’t do anything to help you”.  “Oh” I said, a little taken aback “funny” I thought “I just wanted to find out about you and your company”       

Afterwards I started to think. “Was this one off or do others feel the same when they find they are talking to someone from a charity?”

This prompted me to write this blog to highlight the opportunities that a Charity can offer to businesses.

Headway Essex is a charity but it still has to be run like a business;

  • We pay rent and rates and have to maintain our premises
  • We have to pay for utilities
  • We need office equipment
  • We need office furniture
  • We need specialist equipment at our day centre
  • We need insurance
  • We need computers
  • We need IT support
  • We have a kitchen at our day centre that needs supplies for attendee’s lunches
  • For Events we need;
    • Venues
    • Audio Visual Equipment
    • Food & Beverages
    • Table decorations
    • Entertainment
    • Photographers
    • Promotional materials
    • Flyer and ticket printing

……………….the list goes on. We may get the odd item donated, but as a rule, we have to generate funds to pay for all these things. We need to get these things at the right level of quality and a reasonable cost – as would any other business. We do not expect anything free (however it is nice if this is offered, occasionally!)

So what other opportunities are there for businesses to work in partnership with us?

EVENTS – We run several high profile events each year including our black tie ball, which attracts over 200 important and influential guests, who gather for a lavish evening at The Fennes Estate in Bocking Braintree. Companies involved in sponsoring the event or providing auction lots receive excellent publicity both on the night and on leading up to the event through our marketing and publicity to our database of supporters. We also hand out goody bags to everyone at the end of the evening with our contributor’s promotional items and flyers.

We also have events where local small business come along and sell their products and beauty and alternative health therapists come to promote their businesses. Most have generated several new business leads because of these.

Referrals – We have people who have offered services to us for free, or at a reduced rate and as a result have generated new business on the back of this with our recommendation.

Publicity – We have a great relationship with local press and can generate some great publicity for people you want to get involved with the charity. Last year in Action for Brain Injury week, we had a full two page spread in the Essex County Standard with photographs of some of the businesses who took part in our “Hats for Headway” campaign.

Oh and let us not forget – We have a database of over 2,500 supporters! 

So next time you talk to somebody at a Networking event and he or she says that they work for a charity – please do not overlook them. You may lose out on a fantastic opportunity for your business.”

To learn more about Headway Essex, Connect with Jo Hockey or give a local charity a Tweet – www.headwayessex.org.uk or spot Jo at a BWN Essex event soon.

Don’t forget all charities can access permanent discounts at The BWN and can take advantage of getting crisp £5 notes with Getting paid to network – learn more here – https://old.thebusinesswomansnetwork.co.uk/getting-paid-to-network/




  • December 5, 2011