Forging and maintaining strong business relationships is a vital part of charity growth. A key element of building connections in the wider community is through active consistent networking and over the past 2 years our fundraising coordinator, Samantha Norgate, has been doing just that.
Sam is a committed member of a thriving business networking group, BNI Heart of Sussex and she is keen to showcase and pay tribute to the local businesses within the group that have become such a trusted and valued support network to Kangaroos. As part of ‘BNI’s International Networking Week – A World of Thanks’ Sam felt it was the perfect opportunity to recognise and celebrate the BNI Heart of Sussex commitment to supporting a local charity.
What is BNI?
BNI – Business Network International – is a global referral networking organisation with thousands of regional groups, known as chapters. It helps businesses to connect and grow, and with only one in each profession per group, it locks out competition.
BNI, a networking group like no other, is a great platform for businesses and charities to collaborate, offering endless mutual benefits, including valuable connections and referrals, raising awareness and promotion. As a great support network and a place to educate and inspire, it opens up doors and enables opportunities.
Its success can be attributed to a number of key aspects – its structured approach, meeting on a regular basis, accountability, professional development opportunities and its 5 principle core values:
- Givers Gain
- Building Meaningful Relationships
- Lifelong Learning
- Traditions and Innovation
- Positive Attitude
Essentially the more you put in, the more you get back. It takes time, commitment and effort, but if you sow the seeds of giving and helping, in time it reaps rewards.
Building Meaningful Relationships
Investing time in people, by getting to know them and supporting them, earns trust and respect and helps build the solid foundations of meaningful relationships.
The more you can challenge yourself, learn from your mistakes, learn from others, be creative, and adapt in this ever changing world, you will be in a better place to help your business flourish. Push yourself out of your comfort zone, be proud of yourself for whatever you achieve and by constantly learning and developing, inspire others and enjoy all that life brings.
Traditions & Innovation
Tradition in an organisation is the foundation, heritage and core of your business, but for business to thrive you must also be looking for ways to innovate. Tradition without innovation risks stagnation and growth without roots risks instability. The key to a successful business is balance – a synergy of traditions and innovation.
Having a positive attitude is the key to a healthy and productive life. It can help you be resilient, resourceful, cope in times of stress and enable you to achieve more than you think. Whether in BNI, your business or in your personal life, a positive outlook can help overcome barriers and strengthen relationships. Positivity breeds positivity and people will want to know you, do business with you and be inspired by you.
Samantha’s BNI Story
Sam has been a proactive member of BNI Heart of Sussex for over 2 years and her goal was to make strong lasting business relationships and help educate the members of the valuable work we do in the community.
Sam wanted to highlight the importance of partnering with a local charity and show that the Gift of Giving is so much more than donating.
Research shows that if people are looking for a business or tradesperson, 84% of them will choose businesses that support a charity in some way over those that don’t. In addition, 90% of prospective employees agree a company active in the community is likely to be a good employer, 88% of millennials say they want to work for a socially responsible company and 75% of them would take a pay cut to do so.
It just makes good business sense to get involved with a local cause.
Sam says, “My experience at BNI has been and still is incredible – it is a huge privilege to get to know so many wonderfully talented and generous people. I was made to feel extremely welcome from the outset and I have built some fantastic relationships with other members. It has been truly humbling to see how people have rallied to help each other, especially during such difficult times, when everyone has challenges of their own.”
How BNI has helped Kangaroos
BNI has been hugely supportive of Kangaroos, helping the charity in so many different ways. Members have attended Kangaroos events, such as the 25th Silver Anniversary Ball, Annual Golf Days and Quiz nights.
They have also sponsored these events, as well as contributing raffle and auction prizes, and organising their own fundraising events, which have included fitness challenges quizzes, bake-offs, murder mysteries and much more! Members have also helped by purchasing and helping to sell raffle tickets and Kangaroos Christmas cards. Many have signed up to amazon smile for purchases, choosing Kangaroos as their charity.
BNI members going the extra mile for Kangaroos
In 2019, Samantha, along with fellow BNI members Mark Jackson, Maxine Hayes and Sophia Glynne, took on one of the biggest physical and mental challenges they have ever endured – walking 100kms (143,368 steps! – the equivalent of nearly 2 and half marathons) continuously with no sleep, in just over 24hrs from Eastbourne to Arundel. They raised a magnificent £5,628.06 – a lot of the donations were from BNI members, and their friends and clients.
Business skill sets are as valuable as donations
We have also received innumerable gifts in kind from BNI members utilising their business services or skill sets. For example, some business people have gifted their time and skills, such as videography, graphic design, marketing and photography, while others have provided their services for auction and raffle prizes. Some businesses have collection pots in their premises, whilst others encourage donations in return for free services. Some BNI members have volunteered their time at events, such as our golf days and helped with community collections, involving their families too and their older offspring have volunteered at some of our Kangaroos clubs.
Sam has also received a lot of personal development and training from the networking group and the regular presentations have helped greatly with boosting confidence and developing public speaking skills.
Businesses proudly supporting Kangaroos help to promote and market the charity which is really valuable to us and costs nothing. Pre-Covid, members supporting Kangaroos were encouraged to visit our fun clubs to see firsthand the impact of their help. This is something we look forward to reinstating when it is safe to do so as it has such an impact and adds a greater depth of connection and meaning for our business supporters.
The power of good reviews
Businesses have also been giving us reviews and spreading the word about our charity on social media. This is invaluable to us to grow our support base.
“This is an amazing charity bringing joy and community to children with disabilities. The work they do is outstanding, the staff are friendly and professional and the children are happy and smiley. Even during this current difficult phase, online stories and activities bring the children together so they are not alone, and can see and be with their friends which is so important to all of us. Keep up the great work!” Claire Nash Solicitors
‘Kangaroos is a fantastic charity run by the most caring of people who tirelessly support the families of disabled children by organising respite and activities. I have, many times, witnessed the infectious smiles of the children as they get onto the coaches for days out, and makes every pound donated worth it.’ Richard Talman RTFJ (Featured on The Repair Shop).
The icing on the cake
2020 ended with a wonderful surprise when Sam was given her secret santa present from BNI. Unbeknownst to her, businesses in the networking group donated funds instead of buying each other presents and on present exchange day, Sam opened her gift, which was a cheque for Kangaroos for a whopping £1,200 which was incredibly generous.
How we help BNI members
Sam is an advocate for all businesses in BNI and actively promotes them through our social media channels, news blogs, press releases, marketing materials and uses her connections to recommend them, as well as leaving reviews and testimonials.
In her time at BNI, Sam has committed to various roles, including assisting with social media, and as a mentor coordinator and is looking forward to her future roles as both well-being coordinator and training coordinator.
Connecting with and supporting a charity helps business leaders to fulfil their commitment to social responsibility, and the relationship adds huge value to a company’s branding. Collaborating on events and fundraising is a fantastic lever for employee engagement, so it helps with productivity too. We know that more and more people want to work for and buy from businesses that are giving back to their local community. Sam helps businesses get the most out of a charity partnership. And we love to write blogs about the ways in which businesses have helped us and share these on social media.
Having a charity in a networking group is really valuable. Not just for connections and recommendations, but also to bring a sense of community to the group. During the past few months, getting involved in small activities, such as a pumpkin carving competition, judged by our Kangaroos families, has brought fun and playfulness to the serious art of networking.
As the old saying goes, a lot of the time when growing awareness of your business (or charity) it’s not what you know, but who you know.
Our heartfelt thanks go to all of the businesses and individuals who have supported us, and a world of thanks goes to BNI Heart of Sussex for providing the framework for the seeding of some truly wonderful relationships and collaborations.
If you’d like to know more about the BNI Heart of Sussex networking group, please visit their website here. To find out how you can help Kangaroos continue to bring colour to the lives of people with learning disabilities, get in touch with Samantha Norgate here.