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Five things that need to be in your Charity & Community plan

Mark Topley / 26 Jan 2018

Last month I set out four key factors for a successful CSR strategy. This week, I want to highlight some key areas that should be in your charity and community plan – the part of CSR that really gets your team engaged, and demonstrates your values externally, as well as making a difference.

1. Aims
It may be obvious, but if you don’t ‘begin with the end in mind’, the results you achieve may be disappointing. So it’s worth spending some time to write down what you want to see happen through your charity and community work. Don’t worry too much about getting ‘right’ answers, but imagine what you want to see in the different areas – for the team, your patients, your PR, and your good causes.

2. Cause
Choosing the right cause or set of causes is something you need to put some thought into. Evidence suggests that choosing a cause that connects with the business in some way is more effective. That can be something in dentistry, or the particular community you are part of. It makes sense to support things that match your skills and resources, and again dental causes allow you to do this easily, whether it be volunteering overseas, in the UK or by offering Oral Health Education in schools. I recommend choosing something local and something wider. Whatever you choose, make sure you discuss the options and engage your team. Commit for a period of time and set a target. Get plenty of information and materials from the charity so people can connect with why you are supporting, and what difference it will make.

3. Activity Plan
What are you going to do? What do people enjoy? Will you encourage individual activities so people can follow their interests, or team events (or a combination). How will you involve patients (this can be very positive if done well). I recommend choosing a range of things that will spark interest across the team, and planning well ahead. Remember, it doesn’t need to be extreme to make a difference.

4. Communications Plan
Connecting people with what you’re doing, and why, is crucial. You need to consider how you will engage your team from the start, keep reminding them why you are supporting good causes throughout the plan, communicate the progress you make, and show and celebrate the results of their efforts. Build patient and external communications into the plan, but ensure your stories and updates done from a humble perspective, pointing people to the cause you’re supporting, and the efforts your team are making.

5. Management
Finally, any good charity and community plan needs to maintain momentum. Part of this is making sure your communications plan keeps people engaged, informed and motivated. But ensuring your plans remain on track by managing them effectively is important too. As the old adage goes ‘what gets measured gets done’. So make sure there are targets and deadlines for your plans. One large corporate I worked with added the charity fundraising target to their Board KPIs – ensuring it would get done.

Having a good CSR strategy in place impacts all round your business – marketing, team attraction and retention, building patient trust and your reputation. To ensure that your good intention results in some quality outcomes, make sure you’ve got a plan, however simple, to connect your cause with your activity, communicate it well, and manage it intentionally.