Building the bridge – succeeding together

10 October 2016

On Wednesday 28 September 2016 we welcomed over 150 people to our annual conference, ‘Building the bridge – succeeding together’ which aimed to show how charity and voluntary sector groups and businesses can work together profitably.

The conference was opened by Milly Soames DL, High Sherriff of Buckinghamshire, who spoke about the current period of transition and challenge for charities and voluntary organisations, particularly with how they resource their work and the key role corporates can play. 

Milly Soames DL

Nick Phillips, chief executive of Community Impact Bucks then outlined why business should work with charities; the value they bring to the company board, the fact that employees who volunteer have better mental and physical health and that the best people want to work for an organisation which has a positive impact on the world.  In short, it is good for the bottom line. 

This theme was built on by keynote speaker Becky Gray, HR Advisor and Charity Champion for Salon Success based in Aylesbury.  Every day, Becky can see the benefits to her business, and the salons they support, in working with charities including being able to attract the best people and having high staff satisfaction levels. Salon Success support charities by donating money, goods and staff time in volunteering for projects.

Some of the myths around corporate social responsibility were discussed by our second keynote speaker, Michael Harris from Lindengate, including the strong message that CSR doesn’t have to be about money.  Just as Salon Success provide people to help with charity projects, Lindengate has also benefitted through help from their landlord, Wyevale Garden Centre, in refurbishing buildings and pathways.

Delegates had the opportunity to attend interactive workshop sessions covering topics from recruiting trustees and using specialist skilled volunteers to real examples of how community partnerships work.

 So, what did our delegates learn from the day?

  • Before approaching a potential partner both businesses and charities need to be clear about what they can offer and what they want to get out of the partnership.  Do your research before you make contact.
  • Shared values and an understanding of each other’s cultures is important.
  • Aim for the long-term and build relationships.  Get staff buy-in with visits from the charity to the business and vice-versa.
  • Make the relationship easy and be ready with ideas to help drive a profitable partnership.
  • And above all, delegates learned that the wall between business and charity is not as big as it initially might appear.

Over 76% of our delegates say they are likely to do something differently as a result of being at the conference.Crowd of delegates

What our delegates said:

“We will feel more confident in approaching businesses, equipped with an armoury of suggestions and ideas!” Delegate feedback

“@CommunityBucks thanks for organising – great day we all learnt a lot” @Lindengate

“@CommunityBucks thanks for another great #CIBconf – interesting topics and we met some great people. Till next year” @RephraseLtd

“Great lessons learned about #CSR today @CommunityBucks #CIBconf.  Thanks” @curly_radio

"A massive thank you to you and your team, me and my colleagues really enjoyed and benefited from your September conference... I also would like to let you know that I'm working with some of the contacts I met on the day which is wonderful" Fatmina King, charity and community co-ordinator, Tesco

“Just wanted to say thank you for an excellent event.  The quality and level of information and discussion was impressive and I am sure everyone like me came away with so much practical advice and must do actions.” Lynne Gilbert, Trustee of The Brian Murtagh Charitable Trust

"I wanted to say thank you for organising the Building the Bridge conference which I felt was a great 1st step in bringing together charities who are keen to work more closely with business." Fran Borg-Wheeler, CEO Youth Concern



delegates in plenary session

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