Thrive's Mission Continues; as Thrive Approaches Its Fifth Anniversary, Co-Chair and Founding Member Nick Venning Looks Back at the Organisation's Objectives and Its Impact on Corporate Social Responsibility and Relations between Business and Voluntary Sectors
Byline: Nick Venning
It was a cold January afternoon in 2005. Along with Lesley Peat from the Foundation for Conductive Education, I had come to see Fiona Alexander, then editor of the Birmingham Post, with an idea. A couple of hours and a dozen cups of strong Birmingham Post coffee later Thrive was born.
The vision was to set up an organisation to identify best practice in corporate social responsibility (CSR), share these practices across the business community and extend best practice to become universal practice. Birmingham had always, since the days of George Cadbury, been in the vanguard of CSR (although he would never have called it that) but such examples had been rare and we wanted to see every business in Birmingham engaging with their communities, charities and the voluntary sector.
How to do this? Initially, we proposed a forum in which those companies already practicing CSR could share their ideas with others and encourage them to set up similar programmes. By including representatives from voluntary organisations, the forum also provided a medium to enhance the dialogue between corporate and voluntary sectors. At the same time, we wanted to recognise those who were adopting the creed. The obvious way to do this is in front of you now. Through the Thrive page in the Post and our website, we aimed to further encourage CSR.
In addition, this year, the Post has inaugurated its CSR Awards; short-listed companies are listed today.
So, five years, more than 30 forum meetings and workshops and 250 Thrive pages later, what has been achieved? As my good friend and communications consultant Mark Triggs describes it, the "movement" now has more than 300 corporate participants and 50-plus voluntary organisations involved. Furthermore, in our Thrive survey last year, more than 80 per cent of corporates in Birmingham professed to having a formal CSR policy; and more than 90 per cent of these an active planned programme. …