Investors in Community: Helping customers to make ESG easy
As of 2023, the environmental, social, and governance (ESG) reporting for companies in the UK has been formalised through the implementation of Sustainability Disclosure Requirements (SDRs). SDRs provide a framework for companies to manage sustainability-related risks, opportunities and impacts, as well as set relevant metrics and targets. With these new requirements coming into play, there’s a growing obligation for companies to accurately monitor and report their social value impact, with fully mandatory disclosure expected by 2025.
According to the National Philanthropic Trust, corporate giving in 2021 increased to $21.08 billion – a 23.8% increase from 2020. However, it’s not an easy task for a business to find and help the right charity for them, and despite the increasing attention from businesses to social values, there is still a disconnect in the market. According to IIC’s internal research on charity inequality, 75% of all corporate giving goes to just 1% of charities.
IIC co-founders Philip Webb and Dave Clarkson recognised that businesses needed better support in their ESG reporting, and that an end-to-end platform would benefit the execution of corporate social responsibility activities. Alongside this, they saw that local charitable and community groups were fighting a losing battle against larger, more visible groups in the constant quest for corporate funding. They came to the realisation that they were uniquely skilled to build an infrastructure that combined blockchain technology with ESG reporting and charity work.
This is how IIC was born: an audit-based SaaS platform that enables companies of all sizes to correctly coordinate, track, verify and evidence their community-based support programmes.
The problems IIC are tackling
Businesses, individuals and charities are all experiencing issues with traditional philanthropic procedures. The corporate giving sector is both immature and fragmented, as auditable and consolidated activity reporting is currently missing. Supply chain and consumer pressures, along with high expectations from financial stakeholders, are driving businesses to change their approach, as they are now expected to measure and report activity with full transparency.
According to the London School of Economics, the total number of ESG-related legal actions issued globally almost doubled between 2017 and 2020. While it sounds easy to donate to or support causes, the process can be complex for corporations. Laws and regulations are in place to ensure that a company’s ESG efforts yield real impact and results. Although they are required to evidence their ESG efforts, there is currently no easy way to do so; it’s difficult to calculate the tangible impact of the support that takes place.
And as businesses are giving more importance to ESG efforts, the younger generations in their workforces are increasingly engaged in philanthropic activities. IIC’s internal research has found that Gen Z, a notably switched-on generation who are now entering the workforce, often want to work for companies with implemented community support activities that they can get involved in.
How IIC can help
IIC’s founders want to provide the perfect opportunity to build a movement for good that’s driven by business involvement, providing conditions for a win-win outcome.
The company aims to help facilitate the creation of a better world by providing a cloud-based digital SaaS platform, which empowers corporate social responsibility activities and bridges an important gap in the market. Put simply, the IIC platform helps individuals participate in charitable activities, businesses to track their ESG impact, and local charities to connect with potential donors.
They bring businesses of all sizes together with individuals and charities. Their starting point is to provide businesses with auditable and trusted reports covering their social value work. By combining ESG tracking, philanthropy, and an in-platform tokenised rewards system (Community Credits™️), they aim to ensure that everyone benefits.
IIC provides verifiable data and reports by way of transactions written into the IBM blockchain. The verified data can then be viewed by the business, and this end-to-end tracking of donations helps evidence their ESG activity and its impact, which is increasingly necessary within tenders and supply chain responses.
The platform has profiles and dashboards for businesses, charities, and individuals. It enables employees to engage in charitable activities with in-built reporting to their employer, and helps companies calculate and report on the value of their social impact. Charities, schools, not-for-profits, and community groups can use the platform to host live charity projects and community support activities.
Businesses subscribe to the service with either a monthly or annual subscription, whereas individuals and charities aren’t charged for the service. For these groups, there’s no monthly fee, no deductions from donations, no credit card or transaction fees. Furthermore, 100% of the money donated through the platform stays in the third sector.
What IIC are doing in the space
IIC offers a simple yet comprehensive solution to engaging with and reporting on charitable activities by connecting businesses, their employees, and charities. The platform aims to be a one-stop-shop for businesses to measure, manage, audit and report on community outreach activity and impact, and to deliver against any required ESG reporting.
IIC are striving to be the first-to-market to address and solve the problem of auditability – giving companies authentic, evidenced social impact reports. They also aim to address the problem of visibility for smaller charities by providing a way to engage a company’s employees and charities – facilitating volunteering, donations, fundraisers, and gifting.
Any act of giving through the platform generates Community Credits, a unifying measure of social impact, collected by individuals and businesses. Looking forward, Community Credits hope to become linked to real-world retail offers, creating a true circular economy. Community Credits are already being used by businesses to track employee involvement, provide league tables, and create internal rewards; by grouping people or businesses, a system of transparency is evident. IIC also gives companies real-time access to all staff charity activity data where available to the public, documentation, social value reports and analytics.
Meet the Founders
Philip began his career with IBM, where he quickly became their youngest ever International Support Specialist for EMEA. He’s the Founder and Managing Director of TAM UK, a firm specialising in organisational development; he trains clients at an MBA level, including finance, strategy, communications, project management, and organisational governance. He is also a qualified NLP Business Practitioner and a published author of four books.
Dave has a background in sales, marketing, and brand management with national and regional businesses. He co-founded The Family Business Community in 2014, and currently champions the family business sector of the company.
Looking to the future
Philip anticipates that as the legislation around the Social Value Act starts to take effect, the concept of charity equality and the creating of relationships between businesses and the community will drive IIC towards growth. He believes that essentially, IIC could become the catalyst for levelling up society.
The company plans on expanding across the UK. In 2023, IIC aims to launch a mobile app access point to the platform. It also plans to develop and build a new exchange portal, to allow the swapping of Community Credits earned in the giving process with retail and service offerings across the UK. From 2024 onwards IIC plan to provide an international platform, using the IBM blockchain upon which the platform is built as an efficient and rapid deployment infrastructure.
*Floww Markets Limited is a company authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Firm reference number 980098.
The information contained within this article does not represent the opinions of Floww. Floww does not have a view on opinions provided by IIC in this article and elsewhere where they may be expressed, and is not responsible or liable for the information within this article.
Gov UK: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/greening-finance-a-roadmap-to-sustainable-investing
Civil Society: https://www.civilsociety.co.uk/news/the-uk-must-take-action-in-order-to-seize-180bn-philanthropy-opportunity-report-says.html
Beacon Collective statistics: https://www.civilsociety.co.uk/news/the-uk-must-take-action-in-order-to-seize-180bn-philanthropy-opportunity-report-says.html