Doing good while having fun: can your Christmas party be ethical?

Christmas has somehow snuck up on us again this year, and I’m sure your plans for festive celebrations are already in full swing. However, it’s important to remember that ethical business extends beyond your team volunteering days and into every aspect of how you run your company. It’s possible to put some ethical considerations in place that won’t take away from the fun, but will still let your employees know that you’re serious about doing good – even when it comes to social events.

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Here are our suggestions for how to keep the true spirit of Christmas in your festivities:

1. Order your party supplies from an eco-friendly provider

A party usually ends with a whole mountain of plates, cups, and cutlery ready to be thrown away, which is a big thumbs-down for the environment. If you choose a supplier that has done all the hard work and sourced sustainable materials, you can relax knowing that you’ve minimised your environmental impact as much as possible while still providing everything your guests will need to enjoy themselves.

Why not try Little Cherry for pretty but sustainable options?

2. Choose a social enterprise to cater your event

Every year more and more social enterprises are popping up in every industry, and food is a big focus. When there are so many caterers out there who can provide delicious food at a reasonable price, why not go for one that will use their profits to help an important social or environmental cause?! It’s a no-brainer really.

There are some fabulous options all around the UK. Why not check out Good Mood Food in Manchester to support mental health services, MILK in Glasgow to help empower refugee women, or Unity Kitchen in London to help fund apprenticeships for people with disabilities?

3. Go for a veggie or vegan menu

Meat production is gradually becoming more and more linked with some major problems facing the world today – from global warming to world hunger. (Check out Cowspiracy and Food, Inc. if you still need convincing.) Cutting back our meat and dairy consumption is a great way to do a little bit of good for the planet. As an increasing number of people are looking for plant-based alternatives, the vegan food available to us is getting delicious! It’s no longer a case of being stuck with some chips while everyone else tucks into a delicious meal. You could consider choosing veggie options from a regular caterer, or even look into an all vegan option. It’ll still be delicious, and your environmental impact will be almost non-existent!

Why not try Vood Bar for some plant-based delights?

4. Change the world by getting drunk

Obviously, no Christmas party is complete with plenty of booze., but you can even turn alcohol into an opportunity to make a difference! There are a few social enterprises starting to appear in the wine industry, and it’s the perfect time to show your support so this trend can continue.

Why not try Vin2O who use all their profits to support clean water projects?

5. Pick a restaurant with a purpose

Similar to the catering options above, the social enterprise scene in the food and hospitality industries is going strong. There are plenty of ethical options out there, so have a look around and pick somewhere delicious and impactful.

Why not try The Clink for 5* food in London, Cardiff, Surrey, and Manchester that helps to reduce re-offending rates?

6. Look into charities with unusual spaces to hire

As government funding has begun to dry up, charities have got more and more creative with ways to keep themselves afloat. Plenty of organisations have great spaces that they use to support their beneficiaries and have been making extra money by hiring them out as event venues. Have a look into some options in your local area and help support a cause your employees care about as well as putting on a party that’s a bit different than usual.

Westminster Boating Base is a great example for river-side views in London.


These are just a few options to get you started – there are plenty of other ways to help society and the environment while keeping your employees happy with a great celebration. Do some research on options local to your business, brief the team responsible for planning the event on the importance of minimising waste and maximising social impact with every decision, and feel free to get in touch if you need any advice! Enjoy the festivities!

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For more information about social enteprises, check out Social Enterprise UK. If you are looking for solutions to make doing good more straightforward, please get in touch with us on info@thirdbridge.co.uk. 

Getting started with impact measurement

Impact measurement is a huge topic which can easily get quite overwhelming if you’re not careful. The bad news is that there’s no simple solution… But don’t worry, because the great news is that there are plenty of small ways to get started and still find some real value, and we’re here to help you take those first steps!

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Objectives – what are you trying to achieve?

Start with the objectives for your projects. This is such a vital stage that is so often over-looked. How can you tell whether your work has been successful or not if you don’t know what you were trying to achieve?! We recommend coming up with at least two objectives for each project– one focused on the social or environmental impact you wish to have, and one focused on the business impact you are looking for.

Here are some examples of focus areas for your objectives to get you started:

Your business 

  • Brand awareness – more customers knowing about your business
  • HR benefits – improving your ability to hire, retain, motivate, and develop employees
  • Operations – your business running more efficiently, including waste reduction
  • Reputation or stakeholder relations – improving your reputation with your customer base and therefore standing out against competition
  • Supply chain – improving efficiency within your supply chain

Your employee volunteers

  • Behaviour – encouraging employees to change a behaviour, for example recycling more, volunteering in their own time, or becoming a brand ambassador for your company or for a charity partner
  • Personal impact – supporting personal change in an employee, for example feeling prouder of their company, improving their self-confidence, or becoming more motivated at work
  • Skills – developing employees’ skills.

The environment

  • Ecology or direct environmental impact – a direct improvement as a result of your work, for example planting trees, or cleaning up a beach
  • Human behaviour – on-going impacts because of your behaviour as a company, for example recycling, turning off lights, or printing double-sided

Charities, social enterprises, or community organisations

  • Capacity building – helping a charity to become more efficient and self-sustaining, through skilled volunteering or donations
  • Leverage – helping a charity by supporting them to gain more exposure, raise awareness of a cause, lobby, or access other support

Beneficiaries of your community partners

  • Behaviour or attitude change – changing the way beneficiaries of a charity behave, for example reducing anti-social behaviour, or working harder at school
  • Quality of life – improving the quality of life of beneficiaries of a charity, for example improving their confidence, improving their ability to integrate with their community, or improving their health
  • Skills and personal development – improving the skills and development of the beneficiaries of a charity, for example tutoring them to help them gain a qualification, helping them to improve their literacy levels, or mentoring them in preparation for a job interview

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Inputs – how much are you investing?

Next, ensure you are accurately tracking your inputs so you know exactly what you’ve invested in your activities. If you don’t know these figures, then there’s no way to work out a Return on Investment (ROI). It’s also a nice way to get some headline stats to promote your work. Inputs can include donations of money, donations of items, employees that have volunteered, hours volunteered, the value of that time, money raised through fundraising activities, overheads of staff time or external software used, etc.

Outputs – what activities are you doing?

The next step is to record the activities you are doing to achieve your objectives. These are the things that you actually do during a project. This could include holding workshops, providing mentoring sessions, planting trees, incorporating social enterprises into your supply chain, running campaigns, donating money – anything that is measurable. There are likely to be multiple outputs for each objective. Try and come up with some target numbers and keep track of progress as you go along, so you have time to adjust your efforts before the end of the project if necessary.


I think it’s realistic for everyone to get at least this far – no matter what stage you’re at on your journey to doing good. Even if you stop here, that’s a great start and gives you some very useful information, as well as a great baseline to keep improving in the future.

Outcomes and impacts – did you achieve your objectives?

To take things to the next level, you need to start thinking about outcomes and impacts. These are the changes that happen as a result of the outputs of your projects, and help you ascertain if you achieved your stated objectives.

Outcomes occur immediately after the delivery and are seen as the direct changes that your activity (the outputs) have had.  Impacts are the wider and longer-term effects of a project that can go beyond the direct beneficiaries of your project. These are harder to track and measure. For example, if an outcome of your project was improved literacy skills of a group of students, this could lead to those students going on to get jobs that they wouldn’t have been able to access otherwise and, therefore, a reduction in the reliance of state benefits.

These can be measured and reported on throughout your project, based on evidence that you have gathered (e.g. from feedback, surveys, follow up work, etc.).  At the start of a project you can identify the indicators you will use to evaluate your outcomes and impacts, although you should always leave room to capture unexpected outcomes (sometimes these can be negative as well a positive).

It’s really useful to have some supporting evidence to back up these claims. A good place to start with this are surveys to gather feedback from employee volunteers, charity partners, and the beneficiaries of those charities that benefited from your projects.

Here are some ideas of things that might be useful to ask to help you prove your impact:

For employee volunteers

  • General professional skills – has volunteering helped them to improve their skills around team-working, communication, negotiating, or problem solving?
  • Management skills – has volunteering helped them to develop their skills around leadership, strategy and planning, or line management?
  • Personal development – has volunteering helped them to improve their self-confidence, sense of well-being, or empathy for other people?
  • Morale – has volunteering helped them to improve their job satisfaction, commitment to the company, or motivation?

For charity partners

  • Did they achieve their objectives for this project?
  • Did your employee volunteers contribute towards achieving those objectibes?
  • Did your employee volunteers help outside of those objectives as well?
  • Would they be keen to work with you again?

For beneficiaries

It’s best to work with your charity partners to work out what questions you would like to ask here, then they will be able to reach out on your behalf to ensure that you are compliant with data protection regulation. They also have existing relationship, so it will be much more likely that they will respond.


This is by no means an exhaustive list, but hopefully it will help a few of you to take those first steps on the road to impact measurement. Even doing a small amount of this is important and will be really helpful for you, your company, and your charity partners. Don’t feel disheartened if you’re not ready to tackle the whole lot yet – there’s plenty of time and every little helps!

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If you would like to hear about how thirdbridge’s impact reporting software can help to make this process much easier, please contact us on info@thirdbridge.co.uk.