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The Gift of Giving: Charity in Franchising

A peruse through the history of charitable efforts in Britain can only lead one to conclude that Britons by enlarge are a charitable people, more than willing to contribute their share to alleviating the burdens of those less fortunate both at home and abroad. In 2011, British donations to charities amounted to over £9 billion according to The Guardian. This is a fall of almost £2 billion from the corresponding figure for 2010, induced in part by decreased discretionary spending amongst the public, but Britain remains an extremely generous nation when it comes to charities, and charitable franchises have come to form a key part of this. Indeed, with conventional charities struggling to bring in former funds due to the pocket of the average Briton being hit hard in recent years, franchises (which allocate a portion of their profit to charitable causes) could help strike a happy medium between selfless giving on one hand and the need to earn a living/derive value for money on the other.

In addition to the clear need many people feel to donate to good causes, one irrefutable and irresistible trend has been the increased importance of Corporate Social Responsibility in recent years; aside from simply pursuing profit at all costs, companies are now expected to make an active contribution towards the wellbeing of the communities and wider world in which they operate. Success in this regard can substantially raise their standing in the eyes of the public, and so even if your franchise is not charitable as a given, partaking in charitable events within your locale can immensely improve the reputation of your business.

There are currently several UK franchises that portion off a share of their sales to good causes. One is Snack Support which works in collaboration with children’s hospitals across the UK. For every bag of sweets or snacks sold from a Snack Support charity snack box, 10% (usually amounting to 10p plus VAT) will go to support one of these infirmaries. In doing so, it will supply invaluable funding to children’s hospitals such as Alder Hey in Liverpool, The Royal Manchester Childrens Hospital and Birmingham Childrens Hospital which until now have not been represented in the charity snack box market.

“The great thing about Snack Support is that the franchisee is getting to work with well-known, established charities around the country,” Jim Lawlor of Snack Support told Franchise Direct. “And they’re all locally or regionally-based. We’ve got a charity that’s local or regional to them [the customer].

“We tend to give the franchise away for free. We only get the franchisee to pay for their stock and display boxes; they don’t pay any on-going management or renewal fees. We’re the cheapest option out there [for franchisees] in terms of stock quantity and goods received.

“We focus on children’s hospital charities because it helps our franchisees place their boxes easily. The local appeal as well can’t be underestimated; the fact that people are hosting these charity boxes to help out kids in their own local area helps ensure our boxes are favoured over any competition.”

Sweet Appeal is another example of a UK franchise lending its name and revenue (amounting to about 10p per bag) to a good cause, in its case, Parkinson's research UK.  In so doing, the franchise supplies over £40,000 to the charity every year, an organisation which supports sufferers and seeks cures for a disease which currently afflicts over 120,000 people across Britain.

"The British public in very strident times are always very supportive of a creditable, charitable organisation." Alan Deakin of Sweet Appeal tells Franchise Direct. "And this particular sector of the marketplace was beset with problems five or six years ago because there were lots of bogus operations. As long as you've got a creditable charity and there's a tangible link between cause-related marketing and the donation that's made to the charity it's a very nice way to introduce your service to companies."

Other franchises ply their wares in a similar vein for differing charitable destinations. Snak Appeal apportions a percentage of its earnings (amounting to over half a million pounds) to 25 children’s hospices between Britain and Ireland, while ChariSnack lends its support to the National Blind Children’s Association. With Thanks on the other hand furnishes financial clout to Kidney Research and in so doing contributes to scientific efforts that continue to save lives every year.

However, charity need not be the core focus of your franchise in order for you to cultivate charitable partnerships. For instance, SITR the document shredding franchise, has pledged its support to rainforest preservation through partnerships with The Prince’s Rainforest Project and the World Land Trust. To this end, for every £1,000 order, SITR donates £25 that in turn preserves a quarter of an acre of endangered rainforest.

Such charitable efforts inevitably raise the franchises’ profile in the eyes of the public, contributing to turn over while providing the peace of mind that only comes with giving something back and helping make the world a better place.

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