Project snapshot

Providing advisory services and fundholding

To co-design and deliver a strategy to meet their giving ambitions

The objectives

Technology Services Group Limited (TSG), a nationwide IT services and consultancy firm, has supported charities on an ad-hoc basis for several years. Following feedback from staff, they were looking to put in place a more strategic approach to corporate giving in parallel with their journey to net zero carbon emissions.

At the centre of their ambitions was the desire to engage their staff. By being fully represented in the decision-making process, staff could feel ownership and commitment, and ultimately bring the new strategy to life.

Seeking a clear direction, TSG turned to Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) to help guide them through the process of identifying an impact statement, designing an impact framework, and providing the products to deliver it.

Our support

Our Impact Advisory support began by working with TSG’s teams to identify their focus for impact and help create an impact statement. We held a series of stakeholder engagement sessions and a workshop with representatives from across the business to guide the groups in determining their intended outcomes that align with the business. Our team was able to provide a structure to their ambitions and constructive challenge where needed.

Taking into account TSG’s ambitions and budget, we were able to suggest a CAF Company Account to ring-fence and distribute their charitable funds. Using this giving infrastructure, TSG were able to set up their own corporate foundation, as an alternative route to registering a separate entity through the Charity Commission, reducing their costs, governance, and administrative pressures.

“It became clear we could end up having to register [for a corporate foundation], have our own set of accounts, be audited, do statements and so forth,” said David Stonehouse, TSG’s Executive Chairman. “So for the amount of money it wasn’t worth setting up; we’d be spending most of our budget on the administration. We’d not thought through the implications of setting up our own charity, so using CAF as a conduit, that safe passage, was really quite appealing.”

Starting with a relatively modest budget and the need to ensure staff were able to support grassroots causes without too much process, we co-created a structure that was broad and flexible, but also focused enough to ensure funding would lead to impactful outcomes in line with their impact statement.

“We said at the start, as things move forward we might shift the goal posts and be more demanding regarding outcomes or amounts per charity,” said David. “But one of the attractions of working with CAF was their willingness to accommodate our need for flexibility as a SME. We wanted an element of structure, but we didn’t want to be bound by it and I think that’s been a success. Doing it through CAF also gives us an element of control and compliance.”

image computer lesson

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The impact

TSG’s intended impact is to provide people across the UK with the capabilities to unlock opportunities in the digital world. To achieve this aim, they will be supporting projects that lead to:

  • Better digital awareness
  • Improved digital skills and confidence
  • Safe access to the digital world

Staff will be able to nominate charities that contribute to any one of these objectives to receive grants from the fund.

They have committed 2% of annual profits to charitable organisations. While this is currently a modest sum, the business is expected to double and then double again in profit terms over the next five years. Having this commitment in place now, therefore, ensures sizeable charitable donations are made over the coming years.

One of the key drivers for TSG’s corporate giving strategy was for it to have synergy with their business strategy. While their focus for impact has been shaped by their business strategy, their impact strategy can in turn help support business development by providing evidence of corporate purpose and commitment for current and potential partners.

“We’ve positioned our corporate giving and our drive to net zero as being good for business. Our customers and prospects are increasingly asking us what we’re giving back to society. Thanks to our journey with CAF, we can now make that messaging succinct. We’re committing 2% of our profits to help improve the digital capabilities of those in need in the UK. To have that substantiated, particularly the way we’ve done it with CAF, has got real business benefits,” said David.

Currently in the early stages, the fund is now open to staff nominations. In time, TSG aim to be able to open it up externally to reach a wider pool of organisations tackling the UK’s digital divide.

TSG office

Project takeaways

Support for any size of business

CAF can offer strategic support and expertise to companies of all sizes and at all stages of their giving journey. You don’t have to be a large multi-national to make an impact in society.

Providing focus

The first step in designing any giving strategy is defining your intended impact. Our bespoke workshops can help guide your team in reaching realistic and relevant outputs, outcomes and long-term societal impact.

An agile route to a corporate foundation

CAF’s capabilities as a fund-holder and grant-maker offer an easy route to a corporate foundation without the expense and administration that comes with setting up your own charity.

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