What does the term Corporate and Social Responsibility (CS&R) mean to you? Chances are it is something that you associate with large scale companies who have budgets that enable them to make generous donations to good causes or are able to allow employees time off to do charitable work. However, there is plenty that even a sole trader can do to fulfil their own CS&R ambitions, which can be equally rewarding both for the business and for the recipients of their goodwill.
As a self employed florist and balloon decorator I deal with lots of requests on a regular basis asking for support in various forms. Having done a three year stint on our local school PTA I know only too well how difficult it is to generate support from local businesses to help boost often very small scale fundraising events. As a result, I choose to support certain local good causes in 3 different ways;
Raffle prizes with discount vouchers
With so many requests for raffle prizes, I now support a number of small scale events near me with a balloon arrangement and a discount voucher. A table of vouchers which may have considerable value on paper, can look quite uninspiring so by donating something visually attractive it can really encourage raffle ticket sales. It has even more impact when the charity gives permission for their logo to be replicated onto a balloon! The inclusion of a voucher also encourages the lucky recipient to redeem it against my products at a reduced rate.
Paid balloon décor with a charitable discount
For bigger events, larger scale décor is more appropriate but not so cost effective for me to just give away. Instead, I can apply a percentage discount which allows the charity to WOW their guests with some impactful décor at a more affordable price. Personalising balloons with the charity logo really brings the décor to life, and reinforces the branding message during the entire event.
Free balloon décor
This year I have had the privilege of working with two amazing local good causes, whose stories have really touched me;
I first met Oa, who founded littlelifts, at a networking meeting where we took part in a comfort box packing event. Oa was diagnosed with primary breast cancer at just 28 years old. Having received lots of little packages and gifts during her treatment, Oa decided to give something back by creating comfort boxes containing items that help with the side effects of chemotherapy and other products that give a ‘little lift’ at a very difficult time. These boxes are now distributed to women at the start or during their treatment at various hospitals across East Anglia, and the boxes are funded as the result of money raised at various events.
At Easter, littlelifts ran a cupcake decorating workshop. I donated two balloon bouquets (including the littlelifts logo) and a stuffed rabbit raffle prize which drew a lot of attention! This event raised £500 which is enough to support 12 women facing chemotherapy for breast cancer.
The other good cause I have chosen to support is Sunshine and Rainbows, a not for profit scheme run by local photographer Shellie Wall. Shellie offers free photography sessions for families with a child who has a life limiting or life threatening condition, and some local businesses contribute something towards a gift box that the family receive. I donate a personalised helium balloon which Shellie uses as part of the photoshoot, and whilst donating a single balloon is a small gesture for me, the impact on the children (who have all adored their balloons) is far, far greater. The smiles on their faces are priceless and melt my heart, and the photos themselves become absolutely priceless to the whole family if things take a turn for the very worst.
If you can donate anything to help Shellie keep this truly wonderful service going, please head to
Being able to give back is very important to me, and I truly believe that if all businesses could give a little something to a local cause, we could soon make an amazingly positive impact in our local communities!
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Claire Carney is an independent florist, a Certified Balloon Artist and NABAS Approved Balloon Décor Instructor based near Norwich, Norfolk, UK.