Revolutionising philanthropy: breathing new life into charitable organisations
We spoke to Steve Lodge, Managing Director at Oxygen Agency about acts of kindness, continued collaboration and commitment to corporate social responsibility.
Why did Oxygen Agency decide to offer marketing to a struggling charity?
Oxygen has recently celebrated its 20th anniversary, and we decided to complete 20 acts of kindness – which included volunteering, donations and free marketing support. We came across Bounce!, which was looking for help with funding, While we couldn’t support them financially, we worked with them to get some publicity around their needs and provided some updates to their website.
How do you decide which charity to support? Can you tell us more about the charity and what Oxygen Agency did to support it?
Bounce! Brighter Futures is a registered mental health charity and their services resonated with me personally because I have autistic kids. They are also local to us and fit neatly with the range of charities and initiatives we were supporting. It was a great opportunity to spend some time with them, discuss their needs and issues, and offer advice as well as ‘doing’ things for free. As well as putting some PR out we approached a trust that is associated with another of our clients, and they provided the funding the charity required to keep them going for at least two years.
Did Oxygen Agency, as a business, see any unforeseen benefits when supporting the charity?
Doing anything for charity is great CSR. It not only makes us feel good as a business but demonstrates what we’re like as an agency. It’s not all about profit, and it’s important to give something back to the community. A positive for us has been future work with the charity. They have asked us to support them with some branding changes and a new website, which we’re doing at a reduced rate.
The reaction to the Covid-19 pandemic showed exactly how much philanthropy can achieve in the UK, with estimates that philanthropists have donated £400m extra in the UK alone. Is there a mixed motive when organisations team up with charities?
As advisors in marketing, we always recommend that our clients engage in positive CSR – which means aligning themselves with charities or initiatives that relate to what they do as a business. It’s a great way to gain additional publicity for the business and the charity and to reach relevant people who are in your space. It’s a win-win, especially because there are other non-tangible benefits such as team building and staff engagement.
Looking forward, do you feel that Oxygen Agency will become more or less involved in charities?
We’ve always worked with charities either pro bono or at a reduced rate so that we have a balanced range of clients. We are careful to control this, but to ensure a percentage of our work is in the NFP sector.
Apart from benefiting charity, why should organisations increase their charitable contributions and impact?
Nominating a charity enables a company to engage with its staff, encourage them to donate or be creative with fundraising events, volunteer in their space-time or even offer days off to work for the charity, and get that feel-good factor in what they achieve. Businesses that do this with a genuine spirit of wanting to do good will reap the benefits.