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How Businesses can support Baby Banks

Cat Ross, Baby Basics

Volunteers standing and looking at a clipboard at Sebby's Corner, a Baby Bank.

Baby Banks are always keen to see businesses get behind what we are doing to support vulnerable families with the practical essentials they need.

It can be hard for corporates to know where to start, but whatever size or shape of business you are, there are a range of practical ways to get involved:

  • Giving Time

    Giving time to a baby bank is an amazing way to support them, and can help your team to hear and see on the ground the difference the work is making to the families we support. There are two key ways that your time can be of practical help:

    • By introducing volunteer days so that your employees can use a paid days’ work to volunteer for a baby bank. Many baby banks welcome individuals or teams to volunteer in practical ways, for example sorting donations or putting together packs to be shared with families. Some baby banks ask for a financial donation when hosting team volunteering days, generating a vital income stream to support their work.
    • By offering your skills and capacity to a baby bank to support them in improving their ways of working or to grow their impact. This could include helping to create a stock control, referral system or website, providing support with social media or marketing plans, or even physically improving the design and layout of their space.

    Things to be aware of:

    • Most baby banks are run by volunteers.
    • Most baby banks are not open every day .
    • Some baby banks may not be able to accommodate large teams
    • Most baby banks will close for some if not all of the school holidays so they can spend time with their own children too.
  • Donating product

    Baby banks provide a variety of essential products and equipment for families. This includes high quality second-hand goods, such as clothes, prams and toys, as well as goods that have to be bought new, such as toiletries or mattresses.

    If you are a business who supplies any of the products that baby banks need, you might be able to donate stock to a baby bank. This can sound like a lot but really and truly every little bit helps. Whether it be your end of line, online returns, package-damaged items or seasonal leftovers, baby banks will always be happy to hear from you. Donations could be a one off or a regular commitment, e.g. a set number of items or a percentage of sales.

    Enabling your customers to get involved, for example through social media or in-store activations, is always an exciting prospect and helps to tell the story of what your brand is doing.

    Some businesses choose to run campaigns such as ‘for every five products bought this week we will donate one to our local baby bank’, or ‘customer buys one, customer donates one, brand donates one’.

    Things to be aware of:

    • Many baby banks struggle for storage space. If you are making a large donation or items are bulky, they may not be able to take all your donations in one delivery.
    • Many baby banks are not equipped to take donations via pallets.
    • Many baby banks are not open every day.
    • Communication is key when organising deliveries.
  • Donating space

    Storage is one of the biggest struggles for all baby banks and the lack of space can often limit the support they can offer to families and the amount of donations they can accept.

    • Do you have temporary or permanent storage that you can offer?
    • Can you hold donations for the baby bank when they run out of space?
    • Could your organisation fund storage for a baby bank?

    Things to be aware of:

    • If you are temporarily offering storage be clear as to what you can offer and for how long.
    • It’s better to be transparent up front than for baby banks to have to move stock unexpectedly.
    • The baby bank may need transport support to get the donations to and from your premises.
    • Storage needs to be clean, dry and secure.
  • Donation drive

    Donation drives can be a great way to engage your employees, customers and wider community. There are a number of ways that donation drives can work:

    • Open a publicly accessible donation point for your local community to drop off their donations for the local baby bank.
    • Encourage your employees to donate, for example by holding a space, box or wheelie bin in your office.

    Great examples we have seen include ‘Bring a bottle to work day’, asking employees to donate a bottled toiletry item for an adult or child, and ‘re-give your Christmas smellies’, asking employees to donate any unwanted toiletry gift sets.

    Seasonal collections are great for items that can be donated over festival periods. This could be Christmas present collections, easter eggs, Eid gifts, or birthday presents. For many families the gift they get from the baby bank may be the only one their child receives and therefore the preference is often for brand new gifts.

    Things to be aware of:

    • Most baby banks will need you to be able to deliver the donations to their base.
    • Please check what your local baby bank can and can’t accept, and their quality guidelines.
    • Communicate with your local baby bank that you are doing a collection so they know when to expect donations and have time to make space.
    • Many baby banks also offer families the opportunity to choose gifts for their children, so may prefer gifts not to be gift-wrapped when they are donated.
  • Raising funds

    Although baby banks are often run by volunteers and rely on donations, as with any organization, there are costs that must be covered.

    Baby banks need to cover the costs of rent, utilities and storage systems, some will employ staff as well as supporting volunteers, and all will need to purchase items that can only be provided for families as new – including mattresses, nappies and toiletries.

    Sadly, the increased cost of living and increasing number of families experiencing poverty means that demand for support often outruns the supply of products that are donated, and more and more is therefore having to be purchased new. In addition, as for many businesses, the costs of renting and heating premises has also risen.

    Fundraising is therefore a vital part of the work of a baby bank team and they are always looking for support with this.

    There are a range of ways to support with fundraising. It can help to engage your team or local community to find out what would be motivating and inspiring for them. A few ideas include:

    • Supporting a baby bank as your charity of the year. This can give profile throughout the year and you can support the baby bank with fundraising in whatever way you choose.
    • Joining in with fundraising activities that a baby bank is organising. These are often specific target events that the baby bank has chosen to run and organise themselves.
    • Taking part in a national fundraising event for your chosen baby bank such, as running a marathon or another challenge event.
    • Organising your own company event, such as a sponsored walk with your team, hosting a cake sale or maybe something more dramatic like an abseil or skydive.
    • You could even tailor your fundraiser to a specific element of baby bank’s support offer such as winter coats, beds, prams or toiletries.

Whatever way you chose to support your local or national baby bank, what you do will really make a difference. Not just for the families that baby banks support, but for your business too.

Enabling your staff to help families facing the greatest disadvantage, while positively impacting the environment by promoting the reuse of high quality goods, can help to create a positive, caring culture within your business. Corporate Social Responsibility is more than a tick box and, with organisations like baby banks, can really help change lives.

You can find your local baby bank, and learn more about how to get involved, by searching this interactive map.