April 15 2019 @ 12:28 by Richard Dawson
A new service is helping UK companies knock thousands of pounds off their energy bills while unlocking cash to donate to their favourite charities.
The service, offered by North East not-for-profit social enterprise SwitchAid.org, helps businesses divert to the third sector cash which they might normally pay as commission to brokers or comparison websites.
Durham-based SwitchAid has already unlocked thousands of pounds for the third sector, saving businesses on their energy bills while enabling them to donate grants to charitable causes.
REfUSE Café CIC (Community Interest Company) in Chester-Le-Street is the latest good cause to benefit from not-for-profit scheme SwitchAid.org – set up and run by four North East business people.
Nikki Dravers, a co-founder of REfUSE, said: “SwitchAid.org has been great, they contacted us last year at a time when we were in the middle of stressful building work trying to get the café ready to open and we were approached by various energy consultants who I felt were trying to hoodwink and exploit us.”
SwitchAid co-founding director David Judge says the business was set up in part to address inequity, bad practice and confusion in the energy and telecoms markets. Judge and his fellow directors have drawn on combined experience of these sectors to devise a cost-effective mechanism to help businesses purchasing from them to take back some control over their spending.
He said: “SwitchAid.org is specifically designed to support the local community, improve the sustainability of third sector organisations and offer an ethical option in the energy and telecoms sectors notorious for sharp business practices. Looking at it from a business point of view makes perfect sense.
“As a business we choose to put our profits into good causes; as we are a registered Community Interest Company the percentage of our profits we do this with has to be 65 per cent or over.
“It’s proven that companies that support charities and their local communities benefit from improved sentiment from customers that bolsters reputation and indirectly differentiates them from their competitors, driving sales and making them a more appealing place to work.”
SwitchAid can either work directly with the third sector – helping charitable organisations to cut their bills and win grant funding – or with individuals and businesses that can nominate a preferred good cause to benefit from the savings they make.
A survey commissioned by financial services organisation Foresters found that 89% of those surveyed from across the UK thought businesses should help support charities or their local community.
“It’s been a real success and we’ve recently expanded into the telecoms contracts market combining all our services under one banner” adds Judge.
Examples of businesses which have already benefited include Childs Play Private Nursery, which has received £1,330 in grants and £700 in saved energy costs from cost effective energy suppliers and an additional £1,440 in saved mobile phone costs and set up.
Ferryhill Sport and Education Centre is another organisation which has saved – in this case a massive £14,473 – as well as unlocking a grant totalling £5,000 comprised of unlocked commission that would normally have stayed in the pocket of the broker.