We recently submitted a proposal for a public sector tender and came across an interesting question around social value. It asked us to describe (in 250 words) the social value work of our agency. I had to clarify this with the organisation to find out exactly what they meant and was worried we wouldn’t meet the criteria. I guess some call this CSR but essentially what it means is what do we do that we don’t charge for and that benefits someone else.

Luckily we were able to respond to this and after chatting as a team, we thought it might be helpful to be more open about this. We have a few reasons for doing this. The first is that we now have somewhere we can point people to go to if they have the same question. Secondly, it is a way for us to show that we are open to discussing ways we can help others so hopefully, we might be approached in the future to provide support in other ways. And thirdly, we don’t want to brag but it probably is helpful for us in terms of our profile to show some of the positive things we are doing. We struggle to do our own publicity as we don’t like talking about ourselves, but it is important!

So here are a few ways in which we have provided social value through our work.

The first is support with a local charity called Coggeshall Youth Project. This is something I am involved in during my spare time, as I sit on a committee helping to run it. We developed a WordPress website free of charge for the charity and also paid for a mobile phone for the youth worker. The charity relies on external funding from local churches, grants and events to keep it going so when an expense comes up, they really have to look hard at the budget to decide what to do and how to cover it. By being proactive and offering a new website to help showcase what they do, it will hopefully improve the visibility of the charity, get more children to the clubs and also support grant applications.

With the phone, this came up during a meeting and we were able to quickly and simply say, send us an invoice. It’s not a big thing but it was easy enough for us and something we are hopefully going to be able to do more of in the future. The after school clubs have a tech zone so we would love to help them get some new equipment for that. That is the kind of thing that got some of our team interested in tech or gaming leading them to where they are now with us!

Another local group we have supported is the Coggeshall Big Park Project Fundraising Group. Again, I am involved in this and act as Secretary for the group. We created a website that would be able to take donations through Stripe and PayPal, sell tickets for fundraising events and generally provide information not he group and its activities. In a number of grant applications, we’ve found there are questions around how the group would showcase the grant and the donation given and having a great looking website is a key part of this. Since then we have helped to pay for a number of items, such as leaflets, banners and posters – all of these we have also designed.

For the wider community, we established a new platform called Love Coggeshall. This is a website that can support businesses, community groups as well as advertising events, acting as a sort of directory. Unlike many other community websites, it is completely free to use and add a listing to. As many businesses in the local area are relatively small, it gives them additional visibility. It is also now being used to advertise the upcoming Coggeshall Christmas event (subject to COVID!), which always draws large crowds but has never had its own website; instead, it has had to rely on Facebook and word of mouth. Hopefully having a wider public platform, the event can be more successful and evolve to be even better.

We believe that social value is important for all businesses to consider and are exploring ways to do more. As we have started to talk more about the sustainability side of our work we do want to expand the various ways our agency can make a contribution. So if you have an idea or project you think we could help with, then get in touch. We are anticipating the next year being difficult for so many people and if there’s something we can do to lessen the pressure or burden on an organisation or group then we would be delighted to get involved.