By Stephen Dearing, Vice President EMEA, ansarada

We’re living in a social era. Social media, social businesses and social change – which means the charitable behaviour and footprint of all organisations count for a lot. Done right, it can win you business, attract and retain great employees as well as making a serious social impact. Done incorrectly, as so many businesses do, it can be wasteful, disengaging and can actively harm your public image.

Businesses starting up these days tend to be socially minded. Larger businesses have well-oiled CSR departments – because it’s expected of them – but many have been accused of throwing money at causes simply to look good in annual reports.

When looking at how our business could evoke social change, our first step is to find something meaningful and which resonated with every one of our stakeholders - from the executive team through to our global customer base. We knew that we wanted to make a real impact, and not just throw money and effort at causes because it is expected of us. This was a company-wide exercise – involving all of our staff – and we needed their by-in and endorsement because it was core to our brand and business. As a collective, we decided that we wanted to donate one percent of the company’s equity to a partner – which made this a serious decision with serious implications.

The second step was to find a partner. It’s nearly impossible to make social change on your own - that’s why partnering with a like-minded organisation is key. And I should stress having one partner. Many businesses have a selection of charitable partners, but this can dilute both the message and the overall impact.

Our search was not quick, nor easy – but it was worth the effort in finding an ideal partner which had synergy with our business. Operating in the FinTech market, ansarada provides the technology needed to facilitate large, complex global merger and acquisition (M&A) deals. At face value, it may seem a challenge to match what we do with a social cause.

From our experience, there are a number of things you need to decide when looking for partners. There are the basics:

• Is the cause important to you and your staff?
• Do you see longevity in this relationship?
• Can your business make a difference?

Then there are the more complex things. These include:

• Are there any elements to what they do which you can help with too?
• Can your services actively benefit them?
• How can we get our people involved in this mission?

So for example, if you’re a marketing business, what charities need marketing support? If you’re a logistics company, where is there a need which your business can provide?

Our chosen partner is Adara Group, an Australian-based global organisation that uses the money it makes in corporate finance to fund healthcare for women and children in Nepal and Uganda. Under this partnership, we have pledged one percent of our equity to Adara. This is significant in terms of actual monetary value, however beyond this we are also providing our time, data rooms, technical and customer support to this boutique advisory firm to help aid Adara’s missions in the developing world.

Like any non-profit, Adara needs funding. One of its core fund raising element is through an advisory service which utilises M&A to fund its development projects, such as its mission in Nepal to improve healthcare, education and to stop the trafficking of children.

The pledge of one percent of equity, time and product follows similar commitments by Google, Salesforce and Yelp that have also taken the “pledge 1%”, designed to leverage a company’s future success to support non-profits. It’s well established and accepted.

Once the ideal partnership is in place, the next step is to make it work. Setting goals is vital – as all parties need to be in-tune with what you are working towards. These goals need to be communicated internally - in our case we have a dedicated committee responsible for the relationship. This helps to work together to achieve this common goal and to change things as and when required. It works well for rallying people together and ensures a real sense of achievement.

Continuous updates are also necessary in order to make sure all stakeholders are aware of progress and achievement. This is where many slip-up. They’re great at announcing a partnership or a major donation – but poor at following through. Dedication and focus are needed to stay true to the mission and see it through – which is really what it’s all about.