What does good look like?

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Exploring the ways organisations can put generosity at the heart of doing business

I’ve partnered with Fintech Futures for a couple of years now for their annual Paytech for Good and Fintech for Good award categories, and it’s hard to believe the BankingTechnology Awards 2019 are just around the corner again. It’s such a positive experience to go through the different entries and learn about the programmes different organisations have put in place to support charity and community.

When I read through the entries for these awards, I look for organisations that can demonstrate strategic commitment to tackling social issues and are developing innovative ways to engage employees in supporting the local community. I am also keen to see examples of collaboration with industry peers to deliver maximum, sustainable impact for charitable causes. This might sound like a big ask, and perhaps too much to expect from the average commercially-orientated business in any sector, let alone Financial Services. But really it just requires a simple mindset shift, based on the understanding that we are part of the same connected world, and that by helping others we are actually helping ourselves – and by extension, our businesses too.

The very human values of connection, collaboration, and generosity need not be confined to our home lives, indeed they form part of most organisations’ vision statements. But the idea of weaving these traits into the way we do business can sometimes be approached as an after-thought, a box-ticking exercise. Through Comms for Good, I aim to shine a light on companies that are successfully demonstrating great commitment to these values and inspire others to follow their lead.

Acting ‘for Good’ need not always be about a large-scale CSR initiative, however; extra resources and budget are not always required. Once you get into the mindset, there are many simple ways for an organisation to support charities by weaving generosity into the way they do business. Here are some good examples:

•  Need insight or feedback? You could offer a charity donation incentive to encourage your audience to complete your survey. Document sharing tech company, Pushfor, did this recently

•  Selling event tickets? Offer to donate £x of ticket sales to charity at your next corporate event, or offer a ‘charity plus sponsorship package’ for event sponsors. Or follow FinTech Talents’ lead by offering a charity some free space to exhibit at your event

•  Exhibiting at a conference? Spend your ‘corporate giveaway’ budget on branded charity donation gift cards and put them in your delegate bags in place of the pens and golf balls. The charity-tech company, For Good Causes, can help with this

•  A night out? Entertain your clients or business partners or host your team building night at a charity fundraising event – charities regularly run quiz nights, comedy shows, and dinners in fun settings. It will probably work out cheaper than a restaurant, and be much more worthwhile

•  Promoting a book or whitepaper? Offer to donate proceeds to a good cause. Fintech, Bud, are doing just that with their Open Banking book launch

•  Team training and development – do you offer charity volunteering days? (This idea is my personal favourite). Incentivise your employees to make the most of volunteering days by making them part of their personal development goals. Use this time as an opportunity for staff to develop new skills, for example, by designing a fundraising campaign or event for a charity, or delivering a TED-style talk or blog about their volunteering experience

•  Offer your meeting room or event space to a non-profit that needs it – I recently helped a charity find office space for a team training day, which saved them £££. It’s also worth looking at the Ethical Angel platform for a more formalized approach to matching your resources with charity needs.

Deutsche Bank’s CommunIT Hackathon wins 2018 FinTechforGood award

The Banking Technology Awards brought a touch of sparkle to December and the second Comms for Good /Fintech Futures collaboration for the year, the FinTechforGood award.

This was the time to shine for a bank or fintech demonstrating outstanding collaboration and going above and beyond CSR-box-ticking in support of charity.

The deserving winner was Deutsche Bank and their CommunIT Hackathon, which saw 800 Deutsche Bank employees working in collaboration with Cure Leukaemia to create a digital app prototype that helps connect and benefit leukaemia patients worldwide.

It’s always wonderful to have the opportunity to honour the organisations that do great things for good causes – congratulations, Deutsche Bank!

 

#WeSwear to tackle mental illness

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I’ve just finished co-hosting a pop-up photography exhibition with mental health research charity, MQ, at the FintechTalents 2018 #fintech community festival.  The photos were the ones you may have seen in tube trains recently as part of the powerful #WeSwear campaign with celebrities demanding we give a **** about mental illness.

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This is such a important message and something so relevant to us all that I want to get as many famous #fintech faces to take on this cause and swear to help too.  After all, most fintech-ers I know are pretty noisy, so who better to amplify the message: it’s time to tackle mental illness.

So I am looking for people who will allow Comms of Good and MQ to publish and share their photos in the #WeSwear template to spread the word within the banking sector and raise awareness of the vital work MQ do.

If you’d like to take part in the campaign,  drop me (Kate Bolton) a note at comms4good@gmail.com and I’ll let you know how.

FintechTalents2018 festival supports mental health charity, MQ.

I am so proud that Comms for Good is attending the industry’s first ever Fintech festival, FintechTalents, this week and to be involved in this community of inspiring individuals and organisations determined to make a difference.  VC Innovations, the organisation behind the festival, describes how communities are part of their DNA:

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“We don’t build brands, we build communities… formed by dreamers and doers, innovators and creators, problem solvers and solution providers, advisers and deciders.”

I love this vision, it resonates loud and clear with me. It is through these kinds of communities, where individuals and organisations join forces and rally together, that we can drive real change – not just in our industries, not just for customers, but for society as a whole.

For my part, I will be there with wonderful mental health research charity, MQ Mental health, helping them extend their powerful #WeSwear campaign to the fintech world. At a time when the importance of understanding and tackling mental illness is becoming more clear, it is vital that industries and organisations stand up and pledge their support.

Through an exhibition of hauntingly beautiful photos of well-known people swearing to speak out and draw attention to mental health issues, FTT festival-goers will be encouraged to learn more about how they can help – including by adding their own faces to the campaign and spreading the word through their own social channels.

Here’s my face in the #WeSwear template – and over the coming days you will see more familiar #fintech faces join me, as we join forces to make some noise about an issue that impacts us all.

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If you or your organisation would like to take part in the #WeSwear campaign by sharing your own image, or if you’d like to discuss other ways to get involved, please get in touch via comms4good@gmail.com.

A pop-up photography exhibition brings #mentalhealthawareness to life

We’re so excited to be hosting this pop-up photography exhibition together with Starling Bank on behalf of mental health research charity, MQ.

Screen Shot 2018-06-29 at 10.45.18The exhibition is by royal photographer, Matt Holyoak, and features the faces of the charity’s powerful We Swear campaign, which you may have seen on bill boards and in the tube.

Hosted at a private reception at Starling Bank’s offices in the City, guests will have the opportunity to view the incredible photos of the celebrities and MQ supporters who have shared their stories to help us understand why we urgently need more mental health research.

We will also hear from our special guest speakers from the business world their views on why and how we can and should take on mental health issues together.

This will be a wonderful evening of networking with friends from banking, fintech and the wider business community, while learning more and raising awareness of a hugely important issue that touches us all.

You can register here if you’d like to come.

#IndustrySocialResponsibility

light, idea, electricity, light bulbs, public, glass, electronicI am working on a ‘big idea’… and wondering what to call it. Is crowd-CSR aleady a thing? Maybe that’s what it is… Or open-CSR?? That sounds sort of fintech-ish, right? Something where organisations can access and contribute to each other’s community work and make connections that increase the impact for a charitable cause? Or maybe when lots of organisations in a sector collaborate for good causes, then Corporate Social Responsibility becomes Industry Social Responsibility – ISR??

Here’s the thing that’s consuming me. I continue to be obsessed with #collaboration – the way the word is bandied around as critical when it comes to sustainable banking sector growth; and the way a lot of the time, for various reasons (time, cost, tech compatibility, competition, culture, etc), the opportunities for collaboration between organisations are actually quite limited.

And yet, there’s this bee in my bonnet… ‘banking industry collaboration in support of good causes’, it buzzes. LOUDLY. That’s by nature sustainable.

I’ve noticed that many organisations and individuals within the banking sector are taking on the Mental Health cause, each separately raising awareness and funds for a number of different charities that cover the various aspects of this issue.

I am also aware that the more noise that can be made about an issue, the more people that stand up and take notice, the better the outcome for the causes involved. In fact, the better the outcome for the supporters of the cause too – more staff engagement, a greater sense of achievement, more brand kudos – whatever it is that motivates you.

So, what if I were to find as many banking sector organisations and individuals* that are supporting Mental Health one way or another via the various mental health charities, and see if we can pull off some sort of collaborative initiative where the resulting CSR-win is somehow greater than the individual parts…

A cross-industry mega-campaign? An event maybe? The banking sector joining forces to raise awareness of all aspects of mental health issues and support. A large bank supporting MHUK, another supporting Mind, a fintech supporting research with MQ Health, a team from a small bank doing a challenge to fundraise for Alzheimers Society, an individual banking employee supporting PANDAS foundation, etc, etc, all getting together to demonstrate that mental health issues impact us all, and by working together – industries and charities alike, even those that normally compete – we can make a massive difference.

I can hear the ‘but it’s just not how things are done’ chorus already. But I also think that in itself makes it all the more important, more compelling. Going back to #banking #fintech #collaboration again, this is the kind of industry collaboration that actually is unlimited and sustainable – and by getting involved you get to make even more valuable business connections.

To steal the words of an existing mental health campaign – #ItsTimeToChange

*Individuals – just a note that I like the idea that an individual’s work for a specific cause could be supported by the weight of the industry, just as an individual could choose to give to a campaign supported by a large bank.

PS Having just written this, I am now leaning towards Industry Social Responsibility (ISR) as the label for this mission, especially as the Social part has the perfect dual-purpose here: social as in ‘society’ AND social as in ‘socialising’ (or networking). I do so love a word play.  #IndustrySocialResponsibility #ISR

Fintech raises over £2100 for London’s homeless

hosb photo wth logo and bannerThank you all so much for working together to support our ‘Give a gift of employment’ campaign for The House of St Barnabas Members Club and Charity this winter.  Together we raised an amazing £2172, which will help support  a homeless person through their Employment Academy and back into long term employment.

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Highlights of the campaign included a guest slot at the Fintech Insider After Dark Christmas event in December, where generous Fintechers got a buzz out of contactless giving with their cards, phones, rings and watches via my Square payment device.  11:FS and Bud – thanks so much for inviting us!

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Then came January’s #Cake4Good Fintech Bake Off and Cake Sale, in collaboration with fabulous Liz Lumley and Femtech Global, and hosted by Asif Faruque and the generous Level39 team at Canary Wharf.  We’ll not forget Deutsche Bank’s Selasi and his signed #GBBO apron, Fintech.Finance’s show-stopping cake, or Virginie O’Shea from Aite and her felted fintech goodies in a hurry.  Huge thanks to Tanya Andreasyan from Fintech Futures for doing her best impression of Mary Berry and taking on the role of judge for the afternoon.

HOSB_MarqueJPGAs a token of their appreciation for your support, I am pleased to share that The House of St Barnabas are offering a House Access Pass to their Members Club for Comms for Good members and up to 3 guests during the month of March.    If you would like to take the Club up on this offer, please send an email to Liz Clarke (liz.clarke@hosb.org.uk) to arrange your night out.

Thank you again for your continued support and encouragement.  I look forward to sharing more updates, campaigns and community-focused events with you soon.

Now bring on Spring!

Bring on 2018!

We do love a new year.  The chance to look back and reflect on the previous year – the good, the not so good, and the downright iffy – and then, a little wiser, start all over again with a clean page.  Time to design, create, and embrace a whole new year.  Welcome, 2018!

But first, here’s a look at what we achieved in 2017 …

Remember the Comms for Good launch event at the Cancer Centre with Dimbleby Cancer Care? On the 1st March 2017, surrounded by our comms peers, prosecco in hand, we introduced the concept of banking industry collaboration for good.   Brilliant Harriet Allner inspired us to not just talk but take action for positive change; and wise Chris Gledhill reminded us that the reputation of the banking industry is still poor, so the idea that banking can work together to be socially responsible is very powerful.

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That night we launched our first industry-wide charity campaign – a 50km night walk across London in support of our hosts, Dimbleby Cancer Care.

Hence, on the night of Friday 9th June, London’s banking world put on its walking shoes and took to the streets to walk 50km and, with help from Temenos, Starling, Pushfor, and Deutsche Bank, raised a whopping £8000 for cancer patients and their families along the way.

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Next, at the end of July, the Comms for Good website was born; one of those seemingly small and insignificant steps that was a long time in the making… but with it came fresh motivation.

And so, in September, when the world went back to school, off we went in search of an inspiring new cause to support.  Finally, in October, we were introduced to the wonderful social enterprise in Soho that is The House of St Barnabas, and decided to make London’s homeless the focus of a new winter campaign.

The IMG_5588House of St Barnabas campaign – give a gift of employment – calls for the banking world to join forces to promote social inclusion by raising funds to support and mentor a homeless person through the charity’s employment academy and into lasting employment.

The campaign has had huge industry support from fintech friends at companies such as Bud, Curve, 11:FS, Finastra and FirstWord Media – we’ve raised £1602 so far – and, in many ways even better, it’s inspired a ripple of follow on events…

This brings us neatly to January 2018 and … wait for it … #Cake4Good and the #FintechCakeBake 😀

Details to follow, but block your diaries for the 25th January and be ready to bake up a storm at Level 39 Canary Wharf alongside Liz Lumley, Ghela Boskovich, Asif Faruque and other banking and fintech legends.

Since 2018 is kicking off with cake, it’s off to a great start!  We can’t wait to see what the rest of the year brings.

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Give a gift of employment

At a time of year when we are bombarded with irresistible deals, and we prepare to indulge our friends and families with expensive gifts, it’s easy to forget how privileged we are to have the means to do so.

That’s why I am especially excited to share with you our winter fundraising campaign: Give a gift of employment.

Comms for Good is calling for London’s financial services community to join forces this winter in support of the homeless and The House of St BarnabaPrints.

Based in Soho, The House of St Barnabas is a not-for-profit members’ club and charity pledging to break the cycle of homelessness and social exclusion through their Employment Academy. A 12-week sponsored training programme for the homeless includes accredited qualifications from City & Guilds, work experience in the club, personal development, CV workshops, and real job opportunities. After completing the programme, graduates are offered an additional 12 months of mentoring and support, with a focus on work and wage progression. This ongoing assistance is vital in the lasting success of the Employment Academy’s graduates, enabling them to gain and sustain their independence.

We invite organisations and individuals to work together to raise the £5,000 required to support a homeless person through The House of St Barnabas’ 12-week training programme and beyond.

Please donate via the Comms for Good fundraising page and share on Twitter with other @CommsGood members and followers.

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Give an extra gift this Christmas and support a homeless person into lasting employment.

 

Comms for Good banking industry challenge raises £8000 for local cancer charity

On the night of Friday 9th June, London’s banking world put on its walking shoes and took to the streets to walk 50km in support of Dimbleby Cancer Care.

Under the banner of Comms for Good, we called for banks, fintechs, and key financial services players to join forces in support of an amazing cause.  The Dimbleby Cancer Care #Walk50 night walk challenge across London in June was our first chance to show how the industry can unite in support of the local community.

Walkers, including representatives from Temenos, Pushfor, Starling Bank and Deutsche Bank, demonstrated the true value of industry collaboration by collectively raising over £8000 to help cancer patients and their families.  Janet Du Chenne of Deutsche Bank sums up the experience beautifully in her blog, ‘Collaboration and blisters’.

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It was a life-changing shared experience of the kind only to be found through blood, sweat and tears. That night we achieved something truly amazing individually and as a team, by doing so we raised awareness and a huge amount of money for worthy cause, and as a result we also built powerful new connections with our peers, found inspiring new stories to share with our networks, and we became a positive force for change!

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“Imagine the impact if we join forces as an industry in support of the causes close to our hearts”