Revealing the secret of Carat UK’s CSR success
Two thousand hours were volunteered by Carat UK teams last year, with over 160 people supporting 10 charities. So what's the CSR team's secret? Hayley Burt, who led on CSR for Carat UK last year, and Jo Hurley, who has taken over the reins this year, explain all…
The CSR team at Carat started to shake things up in 2016 – they decided to focus on helping fewer charities in a more meaningful way.
The two main charities chosen were Age UK Camden and the Ronald McDonald House charity.
Hayley says: "We thought we needed to work with fewer charities and establish relationships with them over a period. We've now established great relationships with these charities and it gives the team a sense of ownership as well. In 2017 we set out to develop our work with them."
At Age UK, the Carat team took over the Camden charity shop, collecting unwanted items of clothing and running the shop for the day.
"We also discovered there were lots of other things we could do for Age UK to help them out," says Hayley. "We wanted to utilise our skills a bit more so we sat down with them and worked out that we could help them with some of their digital requirements.
"Now once a month we go and help their users with the digital needs. That might be making Skype calls, sending emails, or accessing social media. It's also nice for the people there to have a cup of tea and a chat."
At the other end of the age spectrum, the Ronald McDonald House Charity offers accommodation to families who have children in hospital.
They have houses all over the country near the major hospitals, giving families a home from home.
"We've established a really nice relationship with them," says Hayley. "Last year we pulled together a programme of seven or eight days where we did a range of activities across their houses.
"We had days where we were helping around the houses, painting and decorating, we did baking for families, we helped out with special events, carol concerts to raise money for the charity, selling tickets and handing out programmes. We also helped with the Lambeth Palace open day – once a year they open the gardens and have a big event for charity."
As well as helping these two charities, Carat also runs monthly team fundraisers like bake sales and ice cream sales, which give teams the opportunity to choose a charity to raise money for.
They have also taken part in the DAN Project Dirt days, running nine in total last year.
"We wanted to make sure that everyone had the opportunity to go out volunteering and get down and dirty," says Hayley. "It was a great team building exercise for those who took part."
So where do they go for 2018? Jo says: "Because we had such great feedback from everyone who took part last year and such great feedback from the charities, it made sense to continue and run a similar programme this year.
"It's nice to keep things consistent and foster those good relationships. We're planning to go and do some cooking at the Ronald McDonald houses for the families so they've got some nice treats and snacks over the Easter holidays."
There is also an ambition to use Carat's more specialist skills to help the charities, with an education afternoon on social media planned for the Ronald McDonald House charity.
Hayley says: "We want to give those charities the opportunity to learn from us and see how they can develop their charities a little bit more and promote themselves more."
The real triumph has been building a culture of CSR within Carat. "Everyone is entitled to two CSR days per year," says Hayley. "We have seen a vast rise in volunteers year on year. This is not only because we have created a programme that is easily accessible for everyone. But also because people now feel it's OK to take a day out of work to help others."