Bola Gibson, Head of Community Engagement, discusses how one of her key programmes, the Lloyds Banking Group Community Fund, impacts UK Communities and is making a visible difference to those whose need is greatest. She also describes how the Fund has the added benefit of delivering for the Group's staff and has become a powerful community motivator.
The Lloyds Banking Group Community Fund was launched on May 18th, 2012, with an initial investment of £660,000. The Fund was designed to benefit some 132 organisations and was built specifically to further cement the Group's relationship with the wide range of communities it serves.
With branches on the vast majority of UK high streets, the Group believes that it has the potential to play a defining role in almost every UK community. With over 30 million customers touched in some way by a relationship with the Group, it has literally tens of thousands of colleagues who choose to play their part within their own communities. The Fund provides an incredibly valuable vehicle for the Group and its colleagues to strengthen the link between their communities and our business. The Fund also helps the Group further embed its strategic goal of helping Britain and its communities prosper.
In our view, because we are a community bank, it is crucial that our entire Community Investment Programme fully reflects the diversity of our audience. In the case of the Community Fund it is designed to benefit the needs of the youth sector in the UK.
To ensure that colleagues believed in and were motivated by the Community Fund, the Group asked all colleagues to nominate those local organisations that were important to them that displayed an ambition to unlock the potential of young people. Underscoring the importance our colleagues place on their role within their community, and their keen interest in our community programmes, over 1440 separate nominations were received.
In total 264 organisations were shortlisted and put forward for a public vote. Added to the engagement of our own colleagues, this approach had the added benefit of engaging existing and potential new customers.
The diversity of the final organisations who are benefitting from the Community Fund is wide and stretches from supporting education and training, to helping employability, alleviating poverty and improving standards of health. Equally, the Fund will provide support to a large number of people with disabilities or learning difficulties and disadvantaged or at-risk young people.
While the immediate impact of the Fund is difficult to measure, we understand that well over 100,000 young people across the country will benefit in some way, with over half the organisations being able to finance new projects as a direct result of the Community Fund Award.
While these figures are impressive on their own, it is the personal stories of the individual organisations that we have found most inspiring. Organisations such as St Crispin’s School in London that provides education for primary and secondary aged pupils with severe learning difficulties, have spoken about the importance of the Fund in enabling young people to “take on the role of contributors to the community”.
As the Community Fund project developed, it became clear that there was more than just the financial reward to be gained for those organisations taking part in the programme. The process encouraged organisations that were previously largely anonymous within their communities to reach out to a wider audience to enhance their profile locally. This not only helped garner increasing support, but delivered new private and corporate donors to organisations during a period of very limited third sector funding.
The benefit of the Fund for community groups tells only one side of the story. We recognise that colleagues have deep and enduring links within their communities and will often look to their employer for additional support. Much of the Group's charitable giving is through the Lloyds TSB Foundations and the Bank of Scotland Foundation – independent charitable Foundations supported solely by the Group. In the last 26 years, more than £510 million has been invested across the UK through the Lloyds TSB Foundations and in 2010, the Bank of Scotland Foundation was established to take forward our long-term community investment in Scotland.
However, giving our colleagues the opportunity to recommend local organisations for the Community Fund underscores our commitment to colleagues and their own personal commitment to their communities.
Whilst, originally, the 2012 Community Fund was launched as a pilot programme, it is clear that it has been immensely successful in bringing to life the ‘Community Credentials’ of the UK’s largest Community Bank. Next year the Fund will again be delivered and again the Fund will support our colleagues and their community groups. It will also help us further deliver vital support and services as well as firmly underscoring our ambition to help Britain prosper.