At NPC, we help organisations across the social sector to maximise their positive impact on people’s lives. Traditionally, this has meant working with charities, foundations and philanthropists—but increasingly we’re also working with businesses to help them to maximise their social impact, too. In this blog, NPC’s Principal: Corporate Social Impact, Margery Infield, explains what support NPC offers to businesses, and why our clients value NPC’s perspective.
Supporting businesses is crucial to NPC’s mission
Businesses play a significant role in funding the social sector. CAF’s Corporate Giving by the FTSE 100 research shows that corporate giving contributed c.£1.85bn of funding to charities in 2022. Beyond the FTSE 100, we know from the UK Civil Society Almanac that the wider private sector accounted for c.4% of all voluntary sector income.
But businesses don’t just play an important role in funding charities. The way that they do business also has the potential to make a difference to people’s lives, often furthering the same outcomes that charities are seeking. For instance, paying all staff the real living wage, making services easily accessible to people who face access barriers, and supporting people from underrepresented backgrounds to work at a company directly, can help staff and customers to live better. Of course, there is a range of maturity here: while some organisations merely ensure they are legally compliant, others embed social impact throughout their operations.
So corporate social investment has the potential to make a huge difference to people’s lives in multiple ways. This is at the heart of NPC’s mission: we want to support all organisations—be they grant-making foundations, individual philanthropists, charities, or corporates—to focus their money and effort on the work that will have the greatest societal benefit.
How does NPC support businesses?
Many of the businesses we talk to are grappling with the challenge of spending their social investment budget in the most impactful way: which issue areas should they focus on? How should they determine what work to fund within that area?
For corporates in this position, we offer strategy support, which helps to unite staff and stakeholders behind a compelling, evidence-based vision and provides a clear narrative for a firm’s corporate giving or wider social impact work. We also provide support for developing grant-making programmes—from undertaking research to understand the root causes of specific social issues to inform programme design, through to developing programme governance and ongoing evaluation tools. Some organisations also value NPC’s support in identifying and assessing new charity partners.
Other businesses ask: how can we measure the impact of our social impact work? For companies in this position, NPC offers evaluation support which helps organisations to evidence the impact of their work and learn for the future.
We’re also proud to convene a peer network for leaders in the corporate giving space—both those within corporate foundations, and those leading teams within a business. This provides a space for people to share their challenges, discuss solutions, and receive moral support from others in similar roles under Chatham House rules.
What makes NPC’s support valuable?
NPC’s work with corporate clients is hugely varied. We design our support around each client’s needs, which are never the same. However, we’ve found from conversations with clients that there is a unifying theme: all of the businesses that we work with value NPC’s deep knowledge of the charity and social sector.
In particular, we bring:
- An understanding of challenges faced by charities and the social sector. This helps us to ‘bridge the gap’ between corporate expectations and charity sector needs.
- An understanding of language differences and the ability to ‘translate’ between social sector organisations and corporates —very few businesses will understand the term ‘Theory of Change’, which is common parlance among charities!
- Knowledge of what ‘good’ looks like in the charity sector.
- External challenge and rigour informed by 20 years of expertise.
- Recently, we’ve been particularly pleased to hear from our corporate clients that we’re providing them with the insight needed to make better impact-focussed decisions. Businesses have a hugely important role to play in improving people’s lives across the UK and beyond, and it’s a crucial part of NPC’s mission to support them to do this better.
Contact us if you would like to discuss how NPC can help your business.