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London’s SMEs looking to increase support for local causes, research shows

London’s SMEs looking to increase support for local causes, research shows

Over two thirds (69%) of the capital’s SMEs say they do not currently support charities in their borough or the wider London area, but the majority want to help local causes more, according to a survey for OnSide Youth Zones.

A survey of 500 SME owners and key decision makers across London was carried out on behalf of OnSide Youth Zones for its report Making the community your business: Understanding the relationship between London’s SME philanthropists & local charities.

It found that 14% currently support causes in the community where they are based, while 17% support those in other areas of London. Barriers to supporting local causes were:

  • 47% said a lack of time stopped them from getting involved with local charities
  • 34% said they were not aware what was needed locally
  • 23% are concerned with the risk of their chosen charity failing
  • 17% believe there aren’t any local charities relevant to their priorities

However, the research indicates that this may be changing with 80% saying they are planning to increase support for charities in their local communities. Of these, 27% say they will focus efforts on fundraising activity, 28% will make cash donations, 17% will volunteer and 9% plan to offer pro-bono services.

The majority of those questioned already provide support worth over £10,000 to charity each year.  30% currently donate time and money worth between £10,000 and £20,000 annually, and another 36% give between £20,000 and £50,000.

OnSide Youth Zones’ research also found that 83% of business owners and key decision makers in London SMEs feel their local community would benefit from more collaboration between themselves and charitable organisations. Of those surveyed, 34% would look to create a partnership between their SME and a charity and 29% would be willing to sit on the board of trustees.

When evaluating opportunities, 55% of respondents believe it is important to consider whether the charitable activity will have a measurable impact and 41% want to ensure that the organisations they support are sustainable.

The survey also highlighted key concerns amongst philanthropists with 47% feeling that they lack the time to become involved with local charities, 34% said they are not aware of what need there is locally and almost a quarter (23%) were worried about the risk of their chosen charity failing.

Kathryn Morley, Chief Executive for OnSide Youth Zones, said:

“It’s fantastic to see growing appetite amongst London’s SME philanthropists to support local causes and use their success to deliver lasting benefits for the communities where they are based.

“In our experience, when charities harness the enthusiasm, commitment and skills of the private sector it has a transformative effect for those in society who need the most support.

“It’s therefore essential that charities find a way to tap into this opportunity by engaging local philanthropists and facilitating opportunities to form deep and lasting relationships.”

Melanie May is a journalist and copywriter specialising in writing both for and about the charity and marketing services sectors since 2001. She can be reached via

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