Smarter Giving

Smarter Giving is our service to help our members direct their charitable efforts locally. We have a special interest in the Church Street Ward, an area just north of Marylebone Road, that has historically had many social and economic challenges. We work with an array of grass-root charities and community groups in all aspects of society from a homeless day centre to a family playgroup, a children’s intensive care unit to sheltered housing for the elderly. View the full list here.

There are a variety of ways that you can get involved and build long-term relationships with these local charities and groups. Our focus for the year ahead is to support local people into employment and inspire young people about different career paths. The Church Street Ward faces challenges with unemployment. There are many low-income families meaning there is limited visibility of the career opportunities available to individuals and how to grasp them. There are also social integration and language barriers.

We know every business is different, so we work with you to find opportunities that suit your organisation’s interest, capacity, skills and resources. Supporting local people means your business will be helping to strengthen links with the community and build long-term, sustainable relationships.

  • How You Can Get Involved

    How You Can Get Involved

    There are endless ways you can offer support. Please get in touch with our Smarter Giving Project Manager Kate to discuss any of these suggestions.

    • Host a career talk, workshop or tour – Could you inspire local students? Member, Home House, recently hosted a group of students for a taster of the hospitality industry which included an inspirational talk by their MD and a demonstration by their Head Chef
    • Offer literacy workshops – Could you support students with ‘personal statement’ workshops and coaching for those applying to university and work experience.
    • Take part in a careers fair – This is your chance to showcase your industry and speak to potential candidates on the range of jobs available and skills required. Takes place at the school on selected days throughout January and February.
    • Conduct a mock interview – We all know practice makes perfect so if you can spare a few hours to go through the do’s and don’ts of an interview, you could help candidates nail their next interview.
    • Become a mentor – either for a one-off session, or on a longer-term basis, and mentor one of the University of Westminster’s under-graduate students.
    • Provide Work experience opportunities or set academic challenges – either for school or university-aged young people.

    Get in touch if you or your business would like to explore further.

    • Lend your professional skills – Charities and groups often need experts in IT, leadership, marketing and finance to offer advice and support. Recently Knight Frank helped to update a charity’s IT systems and an employee from PIMCO volunteered to be treasurer for One Westminster.
    • Offer an apprenticeship – We are also looking at how we can facilitate apprenticeships for local residents and students so if you are interested or would like to discuss this area of our work, please get in touch.
    • Be a mentor – share your knowledge and experience with a student, start-up business or social enterprise and watch them flourish. Short and long-term opportunities are available.
    • Donate unwanted office items – if you’re moving, refurbishing or simply having a clear out, we can help re-direct items to local causes.
    • Host a food or clothes drive – We help many members host food and clothes drives. These are easy to set up and we provide personalised posters to help you promote them within your place of work.
    • Christmas appeals – Our annual toy appeal has been hugely popular over the years and we have collected over 2000 gifts to date. We also collect hampers for local food banks and families.
    • Collaborative volunteering projects – Every year we focus on one or two ambitious collaborative projects where we call on as many members to get involved as possible. The range of skills and resources different members can bring to a project is incredibly valuable and have led to some fantastic projects being delivered. One of our favourites and most demanding was overhauling 20 allotment gardens at the nearby Warwick Estate which is now used by the community to grow fruit and vegetables.

     We cannot help with one-off volunteering days. We focus on facilitating long-term relations so for one-off team volunteering days, we will refer you to a partner organisation who will support you in finding the right volunteering activity for your group.

  • Some Fantastic Results

    Some Fantastic Results

    Working with member businesses and over 30 local causes has enabled us to deliver some remarkable projects around the Church Street community and pick up a few accolades along the way! Over 350 volunteers have invested their time in initiatives such as confidence building workshops at the Marylebone Project women’s shelter, bingo and quiz afternoons for elderly residents at the Penfold Centre or serving lunches at the local soup kitchen.

    In particular throughout the recent pandemic, we worked with our members to facilitate food donations, along with delivery drivers for the local foodbank, telephone befriending volunteers for local and isolated elderly residents, regular hot meals for the hardworking nurses at St Mary’s Hospital during the height of the pandemic, and hot meals for children from low income backgrounds during the school holidays.

    Our links with local schools have aided members to deliver experiences such as baking classes at KitchenAid, interview workshops and workplace visits for the students at King Solomon Academy. And we didn’t stop there. When we needed to tackle large scale projects, we reached out to members and suppliers for their time, skills and financial support to delivered one-off projects such as completely overhauling the playground at the Portman Early Childhood Centre, reviving communal gardens and accompanying elderly residential trips to Kew Gardens and Southend-on-Sea – now that’s teamwork!

    Take a look at our What’s News page for more great examples of members getting involved.