Ergo And Make A Wish Ireland Charity Corporate Social Responsibility In Action
Ergo and Make-A-Wish Ireland charity: Corporate Social Responsibility in action
Back in 2019, when Ergo was going through one our regular evaluations of our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives, we faced the usual challenge of deciding what causes to support – always hard when there are so many inspiring non-profit organisations in Ireland. We wanted to develop a programme that would give something back to society in the most meaningful way.
Around the same time, we came across Make-A-Wish Ireland and our decision to support a charity was suddenly made very easy. Since 1992, Make-A-Wish has granted more than 2900 wishes to children with life-threatening medical conditions, and we wanted to find out how we would help.
Susan O’Dwyer, Make-A-Wish CEO, recalled the very first meeting with the Ergo ESG team and how she came away so impressed that they really seemed to understand what Make-A-Wish did and the impact it has on seriously sick children. Sharing stories of some of the Wish children the organisation helps, several of the ESG team were reduced to tears. It’s a common reaction when she talks about the difference they make to children and their families in difficult times. Wishes are granted that range from gifting game consoles to traveling to a dream destination or meeting a celebrity hero. Her presentation turned out to be the start of a very special relationship between Ergo and Make-a-Wish.
“That was at the beginning of 2020, but we had been talking about doing something together since 2019,” said Susan. Early discussions had explored ways to address the fundraising challenges of a charity like Make-A-Wish. It receives no government funding and relies on the kindness of the Irish public and corporate businesses.
“Wishes are going out on a monthly or even daily basis, typically around 200 a year, and it can be hard to maintain momentum if you’re dependent on one-off money raising events like a ball or a lunch,” explained Susan. “Ergo listened to us and came up with one of the most innovative fundraising ideas we have been involved with.”
Wish cloud pledges
We set out to develop a sustainable income model for Make-A-Wish to run over years. Jimmy Sheahan, Ergo’s Chief Commercial Officer at the time, challenged our technical team to devise a seamless way of donating regular sums, one that aligned neatly with what we do as a business. They tapped into the modern cloud consumption payment models we use for our customers and pledged 2% of all our monthly Microsoft Azure subscriptions to the charity.
The ‘wish cloud’ is only part of the story. Ergo also provides Make-A-Wish with pro bono IT support. Nicola Deane-O’Keeffe, Head of Finance & Operations at the charity, takes up the story. “It’s been as valuable to us as the money raised. It’s a formal contract with an on-site engineer, Paulo Margelino, who does an amazing job and has become part of our team,” she said. “A significant support service is important for every business and we feel like we’re getting the best at no cost. Turnaround times for any issues that arise have been phenomenal.”
Just like other Ergo clients, Nicola has monthly operational meetings with an account manager and the support team. Separate tech sessions explore new options, such as firewall upgrades or changes to the ticketing system which keep the charity at the leading edge.
Prior to Ergo, the business revolved around an on-premise server for the 13 members of staff and limited technical support to look after employee laptops. When the pandemic happened and lockdown struck, Ergo stepped in and took Make-A-Wish to the cloud with Microsoft 365 and Teams. In a game-changing transition, everyone was able to carry on working from home and disaster was averted.
Good governance matters
What both Susan and Nicola convey about Make-A-Wish, and what struck a chord with Ergo, is the high level of governance that’s wrapped around the organisation. It has been awarded Triple Lock status by Charities Institute Ireland, which recognises strong governance structures and an ethical approach to fundraising, and it’s listed on the public register of charities run by the Charities Regulator.
All of this helps Make-A-Wish stand out as a charity that businesses can work with, according to Susan O’Dwyer. “There are 11,000 charities in Ireland, all doing very important work. Our focus on and commitment to governance gives our partners confidence that they are donating to a well-run, well-governed charity that is changing young lives”.
She recalls a less complicated world when corporate social responsibility was barely on the radar of businesses, when the likelihood of a donation was based almost entirely on the strength of your pitch. Today, CSR committees will often defer to employees and draw up a shortlist of worthy causes to support.
“For a small charity like ours, we have to work hard to make people aware of what we do, and hope that someone in the organisation will have heard of us,” she said. “Good governance and things like Triple Lock become important boxes to tick when you get in front of the ESR committee,” she said.
At Ergo, we treat due diligence as seriously in ESR as we would in any other area of our business, but it was the joy that Make-A-Wish brings to children that was the real difference. A lot of our employees do their own fundraising to help make wishes come true, a sure sign that Ergo’s partnership with the charity is one that has captured the hearts of the whole company.
For us, helping Make a Wish successful is a key part of our sustainability policy. The third pillar of our policy is our commitment to support our people and community by giving back through charity and supporting our local communities. Our partnership with Make a Wish gives us an effective way to deliver on this commitment.
What really distinguishes it as a CSR engagement is that we solved one of the biggest challenges charities like Make-A-Wish face, the need for recurring income. With our innovative cloud consumption scheme, we can guarantee a recurring source of revenue that makes it easier for Susan and her team to plan their work and maximise their resources. It has been our pride and pleasure to work with them in support of their mission.