Businesses often want to make a positive contribution to their local community. Many larger companies have Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policies and sections on their websites but too often when I look at them they can seem at best driven by a vague sense of the need to do something and at worst the expression of a particular senior executive’s particular interest for a sport.

Supporting smaller, more local charities can seem daunting to busy business people and with the recent media interest in events like the Presidents Club without thought and care it can backfire spectacularly.

That’s why here at the Community Foundation we encourage Local Social Responsibility. With our in-depth knowledge of local charities we help hard pressed local business people support really effective local grassroots charities and add value to the business through enhancing its local reputation.

As the local community foundation for North & East Yorkshire we get to know the many hundreds of local grassroots charities in North & East Yorkshire and act as a bridge between people and the charities they wish to support. Through our grants and project visits I see at first-hand how lives are changed through these groups.

A small grant of £2700 (our average in York) makes a huge difference to local grass roots organisations with few if any paid staff and with small annual incomes of typically around £15,000. Yet, these grassroots groups punch well above their weight thanks to volunteers contributing their time and skills alongside a passion that comes when local people notice a problem and want to make a difference.

Last October we ran a really successful Dragons Den style event in York where local businesses “bought” a seat to hear four local charities pitch for their project. Not only did all four charities come away with grants between £2500 and £5000, the local businesses also got a unique insight into the organisations they supported.

This is the first in a series of monthly articles about Local Social Responsibility and how it can make a difference locally.