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July 15, 2009

Shaun Whitehouse:Can a personal meeting benefit a whole charity?

The manager of London’s Commonwealth Club explains how using a venue that donates its profits to charity can boost a company’s CSR credentials.

As the recession has firmly embedded itself into our every day way of life, we have all been prompted to make sensible changes to our lifestyle: where we spend, what we do and even how we work.
It is widely acknowledged that corporates are looking at their meeting and event expenditure and, in particular, holding more events in the UK rather than abroad. It is also inevitable that businesses and organisation’s philanthropic giving may need to be reduced as they sustain their own business during this difficult time.  The line is fine between adhering to corporate social responsibility (CSR) commitments made to shareholders and reducing costs within the organisation. 
CSR options
Balancing budget with a social conscience has never actually been easier thanks to a niche sector of venues that are charitable to the core and readily demonstrate CSR. Directly linked to a charity, 100 % of any profits are ploughed directly back to the charity.  

Hence, by booking a meeting or event at such a venue will benefit both parties – the corporate adheres to its CSR commitments and the venue will support the charity with the profits from the meeting or event. 
Helping young people
The Commonwealth Club in London donates 100% of its profits via gift-aid directly back to the Royal Commonwealth Society (RCS). Revenue raised helps the RCS to continue developing the skills and confidence of young people in the UK and across the Commonwealth, opening their eyes to the diversity of the Commonwealth family. 

The Commonwealth Club's educational work brings thousands of young people from varied ages, cultures and backgrounds into contact with the empowering Commonwealth messages of democracy, development, respect and understanding. Projects include the Commonwealth Youth Leadership Programme (Nkabom), Commonwealth Vision Awards and Commonwealth Day.
Donating through events
The profits of the club have always been used to support the organisation since it registered as a charity in 1964. However, since it re-opened in 1998, commercially pushing the events facilities became the main focus in order to generate meetings with a CSR appeal.
Another such venue like The Commonwealth Club is the RNLI’s new meetings and events venue which has been built with 2 dedicated purposes – for corporates to hold meetings in and for the money raised from events and memberships to go back into funding the charity to serve its purpose.
In essence, holding an event at one of the many charitable venues around the UK means that businesses can play an active role in giving something back to the community – sometimes, without even realising it.
Shaun Whitehouse is the manager of the Commonwealth Club

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