Making the charitable choice

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Given the choice between two companies offering the same products and services at the same price, 82% of people said their decision would be affected by whether a company engaged with a charity.

No one would disagree that supporting a charity is a good thing to do.  Today it often forms part of a business’ Corporate Social Responsibility with many engineering companies choosing to work with a charity that is relevant to their industry.

Indeed, over £15 million per annum is invested by UK aviation in charity, community and good causes according to the UK Aviation Industry Socio-Economic Report 2016.

Dave Edwards, CEO of the Air Charter Association, and trustee of aviation charity fly2help, which raises the spirits of people through flight and inspires young people to consider careers in aviation, agrees: “I see first-hand how generously the business community supports charities like fly2help, with staff both volunteering their time and fundraising.  Equally, the businesses I speak to tell me supporting a charity like ours brings a whole host of benefits to their company.”

So just what are the business benefits?  First up is the fantastic team building opportunities.

“Raising the money needed to put on a fly2help Air Smiles Day for children and adults living with disability, life-limiting conditions, severe illness, bereavement or isolation is a great way for a team to come together,” enthuses Dave. “Our Air Smiles Day is built around a flight experience in a light aircraft and gives the individual a chance to leave their worries on the ground and enjoy a day out with their family.”

Recently, fly2help organised an Air Smiles Day for the Henley Family at London Biggin Hill Airport. The family - along with their son who suffers from bilateral talipies (club foot) and deafness - flew over London with Castle Air in an Augusta A109 Helicopter, before visiting Signature Flight Support’s VIP Terminal. The day also included a visit to Bombardier’s engineering facility for a tour and a chance to see several business jets, as well as the Spitfires at Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar.

Dave continues: “Each Air Smiles Day costs £500 which is easily achievable for most small businesses, and up to £7,000 for larger companies for their annual CSR supported charity.  In my experience, staff see the act of fundraising as a team building event in itself, organising skydives and bake sales to raise the much-needed cash. Often, several of the fundraising team volunteer on the Air Smiles Day and spend time with the family their company has sponsored.”

The team building element of fundraising is a huge morale booster within the workplace –giving employees a real sense of helping others and giving something back.

According to Dave, supporting a charity also offers networking opportunities with other businesses.  Each year fly2help holds a gala dinner which brings together over 100 aviation professionals from across the UK.

“The black-tie dinner includes guest speakers from the aviation industry along with an auction of some fantastic prizes such as a flight in a spitfire.” explains Dave. “Over the years the dinner has been attended by representatives from Rolls Royce and Airbus – two world-class manufactures which fly2help is lucky enough to call major partners, along with the Royal Aeronautical Society, the Royal Airforce Red Arrows, Cotswold and Gloucestershire airports, Thomas Cook and Abelli Photo Books.” 

Andy Owen, Account Director – Government and Military, for Jeppesen, a company offering navigational information, operations planning tools, flight planning products and software, said: "As an Aviation company we were keen to support financially and by volunteering a charity that works with children and aviation. Fly2help fits that bill perfectly. Giving children facing challenging situations the chance to enjoy a flight and all that goes with it is something that appealed to everyone in our company.

“We have held a number of events to raise money to support an Air Smiles Day. We have also volunteered to help at an Air Smiles Day. The joy on the faces of those attending will live long in the memory.”

Supporting a charity can also help with corporate identity, enhancing a business image by showing the world its brand is both ethical and trustworthy. 

“Very often, businesses support charities within their sector or locality as a way to give back to their community or industry,” says Dave.  “We get lots of support from the aviation and aerospace industry - so my advice to any business would be to support a charity your staff believe in - it’s a fantastic way of getting your employees to buy-in to your values.”

Last but by no means least, a key benefit of supporting a charity is the feel-good factor it brings to staff. RGV Aviation, the UK’s leading light aircraft maintenance provider, is based at Gloucestershire Airport and regularly works with fly2help.  

The RGV team put on tours of their aircraft maintenance facilities and give talks on aircraft maintenance as a career to students on the fly2help’s Aim High programme. 

Peter Horsburgh Training Coordinator for RGV, says: “It is a pleasure for us to contribute to the students’ growth. The entire team find it very rewarding to encourage fly2help’s Aim High students to develop their interest of a career in aviation.”

As part of its Aim High programme, fly2help also runs scholarship weeks at London Biggin Hill, Gloucestershire and London Luton Airports and works with schools, colleges and charities to offer STEM and career taster days.

Supporting a charity is not only a philanthropic gesture but also makes good business sense – from boosting staff morale and encouraging team building to increasing networking and public relations opportunities.  And with recent research revealing 82% of consumers’ buying decisions are affected by whether a company engages with a charity, it might improve you bottom line too.

To find out more about fly2help, email or call 07539 141552


Caption Dave Edwards: Dave Edwards CEO of the Air Charter Association says working with charities like fly2help brings a whole host of benefits to a company.