CorpComms Awards

Best community initiative

Joint Winner 2021
Neighbourly Community Fund and Foundation

Neighbourly is an award-winning platform that connects businesses, such as Marks & Spencer, Innocent and Aldi, with thousands of local good causes, allowing them to donate volunteer time, funds, and surplus products to the communities in which they operate.

It is a not-for-profit company, which was one of Britain’s first B corporations, and ensures that responsible business is at the heart of what it does.

During the early months of the first Covid-19 lockdown, Neighbourly – where businesses help local good causes conducted a survey of more than 2,000 of its good causes and found that demand for their services had risen by 106 per cent, but funds were fast depleting.

At the same time, businesses were looking to provide meaningful support during the pandemic which would positively impact the communities they served.

This coincidence of needs led to the launch of the Neighbourly Community Fund in March 2020. This emergency response allowed businesses to channel funds to more than 17,000 small local charities and good causes, helping to support the most vulnerable groups affected by the pandemic.

The fund called for a coordinated and collaborative approach, with businesses encouraged to sign up alongside their major competitors to have the maximum impact.

Marks & Spencer, Aldi, Lidl, Nutricia (Danone), Coca-Cola European Partners, giffgaff, Southern Co-op and Heineken joined forces to donate £1.2 million, which was distributed as £400 emergency micro-grants to more than 3,100 local charities, supporting more than one million people.

The success and impact of the Community Fund further demonstrated to Neighbourly the critical work of local good causes and their volunteers, and their contributions to the wellbeing and functioning of local communities. It also illustrated that these causes needed speedy access to emergency funding in the event of a crisis.

This led Neighbourly to develop a unique, high security, integrated payments system on its platform, which enables fast and efficient distribution of funds from businesses to local communities. Once the system was operational, Neighbourly launched an independent, charitable fund The Neighbourly Foundation, which now facilitates all its corporate donation programme.

Eight organisations have pledged an additional £2.8 million to the Foundation, which will be distributed to community causes with a particular emphasis on alleviating child food poverty and homelessness, tackling climate change and improving community spaces.

Corporate donors giffgaff and RSA also launched internal campaigns that engaged staff in nominating the good causes that meant the most to them. Giffgaff and Aldi have also raised thousands of pounds for the Foundation through customer-targeted fundraising activities, such as Aldi’s Hunger Monster campaign, supported by footballer Marcus Rashford, which pledged ten million meals to families in need during 2021.

While the Community Fund started as an emergency response to crisis in local communities, the Neighbourly Foundation is an enduring initiative to support corporate giving.