Liz Curtis founded the Lily Foundation back in 2007 in memory of her daughter Lily, who passed away from mitochondrial disease at eight months old.
At the time, little was known about the disease, and there were no dedicated services for affected families. Nowadays, the Lily Foundation supports over 320 families and individuals.
Through its partnerships with organisations like the NHS and the Wellcome Trust, it forms links between patients, clinicians and scientific research bodies. Recently, mitochondrial research has shown potential to benefit research into other diseases, such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and cancer.
We caught up with Sarah Povey, one of the directors at the Foundation, to find out more – and to find out whether businesses can benefit from teaming up with charities.
What can businesses do to help the Lily Foundation?
There are many ways that businesses can help, and they don’t have to involve giving money. Raising awareness about mitochondrial disease is of vital importance as the disorder still has a low public profile, despite the fact that in the UK one baby is born every day who will develop the condition, and an estimated 10 million people suffer from diseases in which mitochondrial dysfunction is likely to be involved.
Businesses are at the heart of communities, so they are ideally placed to reach audiences at grassroots level. Just a simple thing such as holding an awareness day, entering a staff team into a Lily fundraising event or featuring the charity on your website, magazine or newsletter can make a big difference.
What sort of initiatives can you have in the workplace to help raise money for charities in general?
Donating a product or experience to be auctioned is a great way to raise funds and promote your brand at the same time. Setting up workplace giving, where employees donate through their wages, means donations are not taxed. Giving customers the option to give a small donation at point of sale can make a big difference. Getting staff actively involved in fundraising, for example by doing a sponsored run, obstacle course or bike ride, organising a cake stall or having a fancy dress or “wear something pink” day in the office is a great way to team build, break up routine and increase morale.
There’s no limit to what you can do, it just depends on how creative you want to be!
Why do you think it is beneficial for businesses to get involved with charity initiative?
Corporate social responsibility has been around for a while now, and consumers can tell the difference between a company that genuinely contributes to the community and one that merely wants to be seen to do so.
Supporting a charity – particularly a relatively small one where every contribution makes a difference – is a great way for businesses to demonstrate their human side. When a company partners with a charity it shows in a very clear way that it really cares about people’s welfare, which helps build trust with customers who feel they are in safe hands. Upholding these human values can also help the company itself stay true to its core mission statement, e.g. to provide the best service possible or bring joy or positive change through its products.
Why do you think it is good for morale?
When a company gets involved with a charity its employees benefit by knowing they work for a business that cares about people as well as profit.
Charitable initiatives help give meaning to people’s work, break up routine, create opportunities for creativity, team building and personal development, and add to general feelings of fulfillment and satisfaction in the workplace. All these things are known to be beneficial for morale and productivity.
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