Social impact in partnership

September 10, 2021

Two of the North East business community’s rising stars have entered into a partnership set to boost their combined ability to deliver significant social impact. Here, we shine a light on one of this region’s most exciting new alliances.

With lives and businesses having been subjected to upheaval over the last year-and-a-half, routines have changed in the work, home and social setting.

The ushering in of the term ‘new normal’ has been accepted and it has been in wide use across all three areas of life for many across this region, the nation and the world.

A reflection on what matters most, individually and collectively, was sure to be one of the results of enforced isolation.

The inability to carry out life as normal hasn’t just created renewed appreciation in our mindsets as the world began to unlock, but for some it has been the catalyst to spark change in how we can approach things moving forward.

Two North East organisations with big ambitions, and a lot more common ground than they first might have suspected, have seen the opportunity to come together to usher in a ‘new normal’ for our community sports clubs and the legions of local people and businesses that hold them dear.

Creating, fostering and adding value to connections is central to the aims of innovative North East energy firm Fusion for Business.

With a team of sports enthusiasts, there is a natural appreciation for the connections created through sport, socially and professionally, and chief executive Chris Charlton recognised an opportunity to expand its service while giving back to the community.

For an organisation focused on trust, transparency and applying an innovative approach, it was easy to spot the potential for synergy with pioneering sports tech player GiveToLocal.

“I was well aware of GiveToLocal’s work at national and regional levels, but I didn’t realise just how much we had in common,” says Chris.

“I don’t think there is a better starting point for partnership than when you sit down to explore what you could do and realise that what you are both already doing is so well aligned.

“Our Community Ambassador Programme was launched with the intention of helping community clubs benefit from the long-standing connections they have with the businesses around them; not only can we save clubs money on their energy costs, but we offer an opportunity to do the same for their local businesses and for that to directly benefit the club too.

“The uptake in our programme has been fantastic – you only have to look to the Newcastle Falcons and the enthusiasm in the relationship we have developed to support the 60-plus clubs in their Club Connections programme for a great local example.

“When we sat down and talked with GiveToLocal, not just about what they do but to really understand their ‘why’, we were really impressed and just saw such a great fit and opportunity to make a difference together.”

For both partners, the forward-thinking alliance represents a far-reaching opportunity to take what they can collectively offer right to the heart of communities up and down the country, having an impact on many sports and supporting the large number of passionate people who participate in those sports as a result.

Neil Gardiner, co-founder and chief executive at GiveToLocal, says : “Fusion for Business have set themselves apart as a community-focused service provider, who successfully counters expectations of how business is conducted in their sector.

“It’s a privilege to be partnering with Chris and his team and there is a shared sense of excitement about the road ahead.

“Fusion for Business, with their Community Ambassador Programme, present an opportunity for us to help add value to the thousands of clubs we support in a way we never could, but in a way we know our clubs will embrace.

“This relationship has huge potential and fits the bigger picture as far as GiveToLocal is concerned.

“Chris knows that we have been actively talking to some of the biggest firms in their sector but also appreciates the reluctance we had to fully embrace a partnership in a market so full of stories of negative customer experiences and bad practice.

“As soon as I spoke to Chris, though, it was clear that in Fusion for Business there was an organisation that didn’t shy away from that perception; they recognised it and they have built an operational model and a culture that sets themselves apart.”

Neil continues: “Core to GiveToLocal’s model of providing our support for clubs completely free of charge and ensuring they get 100 per cent of the donations they receive, due to our ZERO FEES policy, is building a network of business partners who support the work we do for clubs and ensuring that network is also of value to those partners.

“That, in itself, we anticipated as being a huge task for our rapidly expanding community engagement team, but we have been building relationships with some of the most recognisable brands, largest businesses and biggest employers in the world.

“We have partnerships being developed across more than 50 sectors with organisations who embrace what we have set out to do and what it can do for their communities, through their staff and customer base, not to mention supply chain and partner networks.

“The reputation and integrity of that network is fundamental to our ability to attract those brands and maintain their support; it is key to our ability to build on the good work we do year-on-year for our clubs.

“With Fusion for Business, we are confident we have selected the right partner from their sector.

“Their FCA accreditations, insurance-backed solutions, honest approach to energy management and commitment to doing the right thing sees them well placed to serve their market how it should be.

“Excitingly for us, they are in the position to add value to our clubs and growing network of club sponsors in a way that not only feeds into our shared vision to give back but also reflects how we conduct ourselves and create relationships that will stand the test of time.”

Key to the new relationship is Graham Robson, head of the Community Ambassador Programme at Fusion for Business.

He adds: “We are passionate about adding long-term value to our community, giving the next generation the funding and facilities needed to thrive.

“Our programme is committed to helping clubs save money on their energy costs while also giving them the tools they need to create a new recurring revenue stream.

“The possibilities, when you add GiveToLocal’s technology and relationships within their rapidly growing club network to our ability to deliver savings, is hugely exciting for everyone involved.

“We have an opportunity to take forward a new way of funding clubs, a new approach which we can see being accepted as the norm for clubs as they seek to spring back after the experience of COVID-19.

“We also offer a new way for the businesses local to clubs to give back to their community and reciprocate the support they have received from the local community in what have been troubling times for everyone.”

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