Corporate social responsibility – CSR – is a broad concept described as businesses contributing to the local community through philanthropy, volunteer efforts, donations and support.
NETWORKING is a key component used by local businesses giving back to the Ballarat community.
Ferndale Confectionery general manager Leigh Edward said helping local charities, donating time and using his contacts for the betterment of notfor- profit organisations is his business’s social commitment to his customers and the public.
“My involvement is being able to leverage some of my business contacts to come up with sponsorships and donations,” said Mr Edward – winner of the 2018 Federation Business School Commerce Ballarat Business Excellence Award’s BGT Jobs + Training Young Business Person of the Year.
“Tapping into my own network is one thing I can bring to the table over and above any business expertise I might have.”
As a board member of the Ballarat and District Trotting Club Mr Edward is heavily involved in fundraisers for 35 local charities, last year amassing over $100,000 via race nights and other events.
The 12 board members do the work, volunteer their time and raise the money for the charities.
The donations are given in the name of the club.
“People who do this sort of stuff are not in it for the recognition,” said Mr Edward.
Mr Edward assists the Ballarat Breast Cancer Network by providing confectionery for the goodies bag that each woman receives when undergoing treatment.
“When they pop a mint in their mouth helping to relieve the metallic taste of the cancer treatment that’s our good deed for the day,” he said.
“To be able to give back in some small way to the community that supports the business, is a two- way street.”
Doug Sarah, recipient of the 2014 Commerce Ballarat Business Achievement Award, is a great believer in the concept of CSR contributing his time and efforts into many theatrical, community and business groups.
As important as CSR is for the community, it is equally valuable for a business.
Mr Sarah strongly encourages business people to join committees, boards and local charity organisations as a way of not just supporting the community but as a way of broadening their customer base.
“As soon as you are a part of an organisation, you find out what is going on and how you can be of help,” he said.
“I became at one stage a people broker.”
Using his extensive connections in Ballarat he said, “I could join the dots with people who were looking to get into a business or looking to get into a job.”
“I always had somebody that I could actually introduce them to.”
A retired men’s wear retailer Mr Sarah utilised his business expertise in educating small business owners and was part of the committee that formed the Ballarat Business Enterprise Centre.
Mr Sarah, born and bred in Ballarat, was also instrumental in founding the Rotary Club of Wendouree Breakfast, Wendouree Women’s and Men’s Probus Club and Wendouree Rotary Club.
Mr Sarah’s tireless work was acknowledged in 2007 when he was awarded the Order of Australia medal.
Craig Willian established RU Advertising in 1998 and joined Commerce Ballarat not long after.
Mr Willian said his business supports the community in many ways.
“When we can we shop locally and use local suppliers, we employee locally and we support third year design students with work experience opportunities,” he said.
Mr Willian has a unique in-kind donation that often benefits the community.
“The use of my property – The Bishop’s Palace, a four-acre homestead on Sturt Street – as a venue for charity events is another way, I am happy to help.”
While Mr Willian has given his time serving on boards and committees in the past, he tends to now support the community by providing the expertise and services of RU Advertising as sponsorship to local organisations and events.
Kay Jackson, owner of Simplex Insurance, is one of Commerce Ballarat’s members who judge their award applications.
“We look to see what [the businesses] are giving back locally, not at who is giving the most money to the most recognisable cause,” said Ms Jackson. “It’s not always about sponsorship or money, sometimes it can just be the activities the business has with the community.”
Often on a business’s application, Ms Jackson finds a dearth of information about community engagement.
She would then discover extensive community engagement that the business didn’t mention because they didn’t think it was a big deal.
“They are doing it because they enjoy the fact that they are in a position to do it,” said Ms Jackson.
Small business may give back in many different ways.
She said, “It doesn’t have to be a monetary spend, it can be mentoring or sharing their expertise with the locals.”
A recruitment company might donate some of their time to help job seekers with resume writing or conduct mock interviews to teach employment candidates how to effectively answer questions.
In a recent meeting with Ballarat Breast Cancer Network Ms Jackson realised the organisation had become an unwitting ambassador for Ferndale Confectionery.
“They were so grateful for the donation of Mr Edward’s product for their goodies bags,” she said. “It is a small gesture that means so much to them.”