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Moving beyond CSR

Jen Woolridge


In my 8 years in corporate fundraising, I have seen a million different ways companies work with charities. This has been anything from supporting research projects to hiking 200 miles through rainforests. There are so many wonderful examples of how a company can support a charity in its mission and SolarAid have been fortunate enough to have some incredible organisations support us right from the beginning. We were, after all, founded by SolarCentury, one of the biggest solar companies in the world that work tirelessly on solar energy projects across the world.

There has been a real shift over the last few years in how partnerships are materialising and rightly so. The shift has been strategic, moving away from strictly corporate social responsibility. This makes sense in so many ways as partnerships should be mutually beneficial. The partnerships that stand the test of time and create the biggest impact are the ones where there is a real shared purpose.

We have seen at times organisations partnering with a charity because they think it is something they should do, but gone are the days. It is necessary for the company to see a real tangible benefit for their support and believe in their mission, rather than them seeing their charity partner as a chore or something they should do. I am pleased and proud to include a few words from some of our partners talking about SolarAid and why they support us in the way that they do. The mutual benefit of a shared purpose is being confirmed time and time again.

Reid Co-Founder and CEO at Gogotoro recently visited us at our HQ in London and was able to hear first-hand about how their support is part of an exciting area of growth for us here at SolarAid.

‘One of our core values is giving back to our global community. While making fun, one-of-a-kind, award-winning gadgets improve the lives of people in the developed world, it’s important to remember that there is a very significant portion of the global population that isn’t concerned with optimizing their power consumption, but rather just have access to power at all.‘

We know how transformational a solar light can be from working with families and individuals who use the lights every day. ‘Just one lamp can transform the fortunes of an entire family. Our goal is to help SolarAid give a solar light for every Unravel Wireless Charger we sell, to provide light to people in places that need it most’, Reid said.

Another important part that our partners play, is helping us spread awareness about our mission. The way in which partners such as Carbon Intelligence have introduced us to some of their clients who have a shared purpose with our work has been an incredibly valuable aspect of our partnership. They talk about our partnership in their meetings with clients and prospects which they say has been a real incentive. The more people who know about our mission the better.

The team from Carbon Intelligence took on the challenge to cycle from London to Paris.

Another brilliant example of how we work with corporate partners, is LottoLove, The first social good scratch-off card. Their mission is to make every day gifting less wasteful and more impactful. LottoLove launched with the ‘basic needs’ line which aims to provide people with the necessary resources to live. ‘SolarAid stood out to us for its sustainable method of bringing solar light to those living in the most rural parts of the world. Instead of going into a community, providing aid and then leaving, SolarAid creates a market place around the solar lights. It is important for us to partner with and support charities that empower the communities they work in by giving them the necessary tools to prosper.’‘More than just being proud to support SolarAid, we also have a lot of fun doing it. Throughout the year we host fundraising activities, everything from bake sales, quiz nights, clothes swaps to gig nights. We recently just completed the London to Paris Cycle in 24 hours, no mean feat but the thought of the impact our fundraising would have was enough to keep us going, says Grace Melville, Marketing Executive at Carbon Intelligence.

 ‘Not only is SolarAid working to lift people out of poverty they are combating climate change and that is something LottoLove wholeheartedly supports’, says Laura Beck, Founder of LottoLove.

We have 10 years left to make sure no one is left in the dark. We categorically can’t do it by ourselves. We are looking to create some truly transformational partnerships. We will be launching a campaign next year to tie in with this. Want to hear more? Watch this space or drop me a line! I would love to chat with you.

– Jen Woolridge, Corporate Partnerships Manager