Starbucks and Marks and Spencer join new CSR social network
Starbucks and M&S have signed up to a new social networking site specialising in helping companies support charitable community and sustainability projects.
Launched today (24 July), neighbourly.com is a free networking site designed to help communities connect with companies that can contribute funding or volunteers to local charitable, environmental or social enterprise projects.
"Expenditure on corporate social responsibility (CSR) is no longer seen as a detriment to a company's profitability," said neighbourly.com founder and CEO Nick Davies.
"CSR has evolved from being an unloved, isolated part of a company to something more profound that's changing the way companies do business everyday - and increasingly investors view such expenditure as essential to a company's long-term brand and value.
"British companies typically get involved where Head Office or branches are based. neighbourly.com can help them both democratise and increase corporate giving."
More than 85% of FTSE 100 companies publish annual CSR reports, yet according to Davies, philanthropic donations from US companies are 14 times higher than UK companies and US companies are far more involved in the charities sector with corporate donations in the USA rising 19.4% in five years.
In the UK, total corporate charitable support was 0.4% of pre-tax profits in 2013 with corporate giving representing only 2% of total income to the voluntary sector, whilst giving by the general public represents 43%, according to the Directory of Social Change.
neighbourly.com's UK launch has been embraced by household brand names including Starbucks and M&S. "Our founding values since 1971 have been to use our scale for good and be a force for positive action in the communities we serve," said Starbucks European director of corporate affairs Simon Redfern.
"The neighbourly.com platform is really powerful for us and will improve our ability to support local community projects, as well as celebrate the support already taking place. Our partners are going to love this new initiative which will help them do more in their local patch."
M&S head of responsible business Carmel McQuaid said: "neighourly.com is a perfect way for us to elevate our level of community involvement. It provides us with an easier and clearer way of understanding what a project is doing at a local level - and offering it some practical assistance. It gives us a chance of saying 'yes' more often."