This week we focus on the CSR programme run by Dublin Bus: the Community Spirit Initiative.
The Community Spirit Initiative explained
Now in its twelfth year, the Dublin Bus Community Spirit Initiative offers grants to local voluntary groups and clubs to help them grow their organisations, develop new projects and foster a greater sense of co-operation among local Dublin communities.
Since its inception in 2003, the Dublin Bus Community Spirit Initiative has awarded grants to help over 1,500 community and voluntary groups around the capital. It is open to any such group operating within the scope of the Dublin Bus network (essentially, from Balbriggan down to Greystones, and as far west as Maynooth).
Who is the Community Spirit Initiative for & how do they enter it?
The Community Spirit Initiative is intended for voluntary groups operating in one of six areas: Children & Youth, Sport, People with Disabilities, Senior Citizens, Environment & Local Community, and Education. This means that, over the last decade, Dublin Bus have been able to provide financial support to everybody from Boxing clubs and sign language tutors, to crisis accommodation centres and city centre soup kitchens, through to adult literacy and women’s artistic groups.
Under the programme, voluntary and community groups must complete an application proposal which outlines information about their organisation and the project for which they require funding. Each application is then judged by an independent panel, and the successful applicants are then invited to the “Dublin Bus Community Spirit Awards” where they are presented with grants of between €1,000 and €5,000.
The Community Spirit Initiative as Corporate Social Responsibility
Dublin Bus pays for the scheme through what they describe as “long-term unclaimed change receipts”. So, when you don’t have the exact fare for the bus and forget to reclaim your change receipt, you might inadvertently be providing funds for your local karate club or homeless shelter. Dublin Bus says the Community Spirit Initiative reflects their “commitment to playing an active role in the communities in which they operate”, and it forms part of the company’s longstanding commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility (they also run successful CSR programmes such as the Dublin Bus Schools Programme and the Niall Quinn Penalty Shoot-out).
Personally, while I believe that the Community Spirit Awards are an excellent example of a successful CSR scheme, the promotion of it by Dublin Bus has – so far – been a little low-key. Most of their advertising spend on the initiative seems to be confined to bus shelters ads and a few posters on the stairwells of their own buses, plus some cursory mentions on their social media channels.
Social Media Presence
In order to correct this, Dublin Bus should consider setting up a stand-alone Facebook page specifically for their Community Spirit Initiative. Their status updates relating to the Community Spirit programme are possibly getting swamped by the amount of travel news they regularly post to their official Dublin Bus Facebook page. A stand-alone Facebook page would also give previous recipients a place they could post testimonials of the difference the awards have made to their organisations.
Neither does Dublin Bus seem to have set-up a YouTube channel where community groups might be able to post clips showing the positive impact the grants have had in their areas. Dublin Bus could do worse than look at the “Powering Kindness” CSR initiative run by Electric Ireland to see how they might integrate content from their communities into their social media campaigns.
The closing date for applications for the Community Spirit Awards is Friday the 20th of June 2014, and application forms are available to download at the Dublin Bus website. If organisations are successful in their applications, Dublin Bus will notify them by August 2014.