Small but mighty

Ben Darlington | 23 September 19

MAPP is a small company, but their impact on the community is big through the work they do with their clients, their supply chain, but most directly through their people. Despite their size, or perhaps because of it, they have fantastic volunteer uptake. In 2018 the overall volunteering rate for office-based staff at the company was 73%! This piece looks at four key strategies they’ve put to work.

1: Set targets

MAPP have always offered their people two days each year to spend volunteering for charities. Before 2015, they’d never really measured the take up. When this started in 2015 the results weren’t pretty, only 6% of the available days had been used. This prompted a full review of the benefit and a renewed drive to get people engaged.

The year-on-year improvements from 2015 led to CEO Nigel Mapp setting an ambitious challenge to achieve a 100% volunteering rate in 2018. As he made clear,

“one of our core values is to be appreciative of what each of us has and spend time looking outward at the needs around us and responding generously.”

Although a slightly daunting goal, it made the message about the company’s commitment to volunteering crystal clear. The message was a challenge to the idea of presenteeism at work – that people must always be seen at their desks – and that taking time away, even to do some volunteering, will ‘look bad.’ When a CEO sets a target, it helps break down this perception and builds up a new one that highlights just how valued volunteering is for both the individual and also for the company.

2: Build it in

Another method the company uses to encourage volunteering is by linking it to professional development. Volunteering is a key consideration when it comes to promotions and is discussed at employee appraisals. Carl Brooks, MAPP’s Head of Sustainability, explained this:

“We want people working at MAPP to have a shared ethos, and to really be living our values and working towards the achievement of our wider objectives.”

This again emphasises that volunteering is not just a company benefit or a box-ticking exercise, but that it is woven into the very fabric of the business.

3: Think Locally

Every region of the UK has different needs, supported by different charities. Finding opportunities to work with local charities to address key regional themes makes volunteering feel much more relevant and connected.

MAPP have really understood this and were supportive from the outset of Benefacto’s expansion to Manchester (their growth over the past few years has led to a strong presence in the city).  A large number of volunteers from the Manchester office have responded to the opportunity to get out and support their local charities through the partnership.  The take-up mirrored the experience within the London head office in 2017 and really shows the value of giving people lots of different ways to volunteer within their own community.

4: Charity champions

Recognising that volunteering in smaller, regional offices often requires a different approach to that of head offices, MAPP identified that staff based in each office are best placed to lead on philanthropic initiatives. They’ve set up a small network of charity champions in each of their five offices. This helps make sure that all fundraising, volunteering and other charitable activity suits the nature of the region, the office and its staff and has resulted in more meaningful and valuable engagement with local charities.

The wrap

MAPP’s bold approach to volunteering has been about harnessing their strengths: a cohesive company culture, a hands-on and passionate CEO, and national reach across their regional offices.

They also recognise the need to keep learning and innovating. In parallel to their reinvigorated volunteering programme, they’re members of Heart of the City – something that has helped them challenge convention and consider new ways to motivate and engage their people.

By harnessing these elements effectively, MAPP is a leading example of the great impact an SME can make on the local community. Oh, and the target they set for 2018? They didn’t reach 100% (which was hugely aspirational) but achieved an incredible 67% across all business units, rising to 73% for the office based teams!

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Ben Darlington looks after new partnerships and possibilities at Benefacto. He has been involved with the project since its inception back in 2012, building the website and developing the graphic design. He is always looking for ways for charities, businesses and social enterprises to work together. If you'd like to work with Benefacto talk to Ben at ben@benefacto.org.