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A Bloomin Opportunity for CSR

Posted on October 28, 2011

Amanda Boyle of Bloom VC talks about the importance of crowdfunding and the impact it has on a business and its CSR.

We all know times are tough, and the current economic situation is making the growth of new businesses and the innovation necessary to sustain that reputation much harder. Access to finance is problematic, the perception is that the High Street banks are not lending, and public sector cuts have meant a similar reduction in the amount of money available for grants.

All of this also means that charities and local communities are being hit with a significant decrease in donations, impacting the amount of work they can actually do.

The pressing need to find new and better ways to support startups and encourage entrepreneurship and community social responsibility has been answered with the global phenomenon that is crowdfunding.

Crowdfunding is actually not a new invention, it has been around for hundreds of years, but has been propelled into the forefront by the explosion of social media. As users of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn grow, so do the opportunities to reach out for support.

The model is remarkably simple but incredibly effective, it is micropatronage, or grassroots funding; tens, 100s or 1,000s of people donate £10, £15, £50, £100 or more to ventures in return for treats, gifts, even a simple, public 'thank you'.

There are platforms that support film and theatre, technology, creative projects, the third sector, social enterprises and community projects, even niche sectors like journalism and photography and every day millions of pounds, euros and dollars are gifted simply to help make a difference.

But there's another side to crowdfunding that has yet to be leveraged the CSR opportunity.

According to Amanda Boyle, founder and CEO of Bloom VC (Venture Catalyst), businesses with a desire to support their local community and a determination to demonstrate their CSR impact in their annual report can tap into the crowdfunding model.

Employees who are given time and small amounts of money to volunteer within the community can use Bloom to raise additional funds from a wider audience, sums that could be topped up or even matched from the CSR budget.

Amanda explains: Say for example an employee wants to raise £5,000 for a local charity, they could pitch their project on Bloom, share the story of what the money's for and the difference it will make to the charity and community, and then reach out to both community and company networks to ask for donations.

The reach is much wider than simply asking local people to support; in many cases, these people will have been asked time and time again for their donations and willingness to give could be tired.

When the target is reached or even exceeded, as often happens the final sum can be topped up or matched by the employer; it's a double impact for the charity and allows the company to make an even bigger gesture than perhaps they could have done before.

RM2 is pleased to recommend Bloom VC's services. If you want to know more about how crowdfunding fits with your CSR strategy, please contact Amanda Boyle (Amanda@bloomvc.com) or Michelle Rodger (michelle@bloomvc.com). Visit the website here http://www.bloomvc.com/.

 
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