We all realise that times are hard and it can be difficult to generate new business. Getting involved with your local community can help increase awareness of your business.
Over the past 18 years I have been involved in building mutually beneficial partnerships between the commercial and voluntary sectors. Regularly I have been asked how can we work with communities to build better relationships?
As the official treat provider to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, Cadbury wanted to bring the spirit of the Games to people across the UK, especially communities that felt disconnected from the excitement of the world's greatest sporting event. Our Cadbury Spots v Stripes Community Programme proved to be very successful in doing this.
We created a network of volunteers who helped at our community events. Over 4,500 volunteers were recruited and independent research shows that they felt very positive towards the brand, after being involved with our 2012 community programme. Being seen as a leader within the community builds trust.
We gave volunteers, many of whom were out of work, opportunities to increase their skills and self-confidence. Their responsibilities included organising events, working with the media and liaising with community groups, and, as a result, 129 volunteers are now in paid employment.
The important thing to remember when developing a community programme is to be transparent about why you want to get involved. Take the time to understand the community challenge relevant to your business and how your expertise can help make a difference.
Sonia Chhatwal, community affairs manager, Kraft Foods