thirdbridge to close

My name is Rick Benfield – I am the founder of thirdbridge, the social enterprise that set out to help companies be a force for good. It is with deep regret and sadness that, after 6.5 years, thirdbridge is no longer financially viable and I have taken the decision to close the company. Access to the online platform will be turned off on the 14th November 2019.

Over the last 6 years we managed to punch above our weight for a long time and worked with some amazing clients, including; BNP Paribas, Provident Financial Group, The Crown Estate, Diageo, Thomas Miller, CEB Global, Metapraxis, and Octink. We have also helped hundreds of charities and social enterprises find support, and got thousands of people out volunteering.

Indeed, we achieved a number of positive changes through the work at thirdbridge, here are some highlights:

  • Helped Clic Sargent to re-structure its approach and way of working with corporates, leading to new corporate partnerships and increased impact of volunteers
  • Helped The Crown Estate to win the Global Good Company of the Year award in 2018 for its stewardship projects
  • Helped Thomas Miller to launch their CSR programme which has seen hundreds of their staff volunteering for the first time
  • Helped BNP Paribas to launch their CSR programme which has seen thousands of their staff volunteering for the first time, and all sorts of sustainability initiatives at the company, including divestment from Tobacco companies
  • Helped Metapraxis launch their CSR programme which as seen over 50% of their staff volunteering for the first time
  • Helped Provident Financial Group to develop a more strategic approach to CSR, supporting education and financial literacy projects for the long term
  • Connected with over 500 charities, 70 companies and thousands of volunteers

Finally, I would like to say a huge thank you for all those that believed in me and the dream I had for thirdbridge.  You supported me, and helped me in this journey, and for that I will be eternally grateful.  I do still believe that harnessing business for good is the key to solving/preventing so many of the social and environmental issues that the world faces, and I will personally continue to work in this space.

Thank you,
Rick Benfield

Still looking for help?

If you are a charity still looking for support or company trying to be good, please do check out:

  • Index for Good’ – a directory of all the ways that charities can get support from companies for free, including; volunteers, expertise, in kind donations and training.
  • KindLink – a similar platform to thirdbridge providing a marketplace for charities and companies to connect, wider CRM functionality for charities and CSR software for companies.


Building the business case for doing good

Of course we all know that ethical business is a real win-win. Not only can you help to solve a social or environmental issue, but you can also get some amazing business benefits at the same time. However, convincing the decision-makers at your company to support your work and to give you enough budget can be hard work. Here are some ways to make sure your business has your back:

1) What are the benefits?

The benefits of doing good to your business’ bottom line are very real and very diverse. Here are some examples:

Increase revenue through:

  • Enhanced company reputation
  • Access to new markets

Improve productivity through:

  • More pride in the company
  • Increased employee engagement and motivation
  • Improved professional skills & leadership development

Reduce costs through:

  • Reduced absenteeism
  • Easier recruitment
  • Less attrition


2) Useful stats

 Help get your point across with some snappy facts and figures:

  • 94% of companies surveyed believe employee volunteering provides a way to raise employee morale (Source: Corporate Citizenship & City of London)
  • 66% of employees report a greater commitment to their company as a result of their experience volunteering (Source: Corporate Citizenship & City of London)
  • 91% of Fortune 500 Human Resources Managers said skills-based volunteering with a charity can be an effective way to cultivate critical business and leadership skills (Source: Deloitte)
  • 50+% of millennials would consider leaving an employer whose values no longer matched their own (Source: PwC)
  • 88% of millennials say they want to work for a socially responsible company (Source: Deloitte)
  • Based on decreased turnover costs and improved employee performance, $2400 are generated for every employee who participates in a volunteer programme (Source: CEB)
  • £381 vs £400: it costs £19 less per employee to develop skills through volunteering compared with traditional training (Source: Corporate Citizenship)
  • 55% of consumers say they are willing to pay more for products and services provided by companies that are committed to positive social and environmental impact. (Source: Nielsen)
  • There is a 5% – 40% increase in revenue for companies that demonstrate a clear commitment to social responsibility (Source: Nielsen)
  • There is a 74% reduction in energy use when switching to LED lighting. Whilst there is often an up front expense, payback in LED lighting is typically between one and three years. (Source: Carbon Trust)

3) Understanding your impact

The reality of the situation is that measuring impact is a scary business and it’s really hard to do it perfectly. However, the good news is that there are some small steps you can take to get started on the journey and have a much clearer idea of the impact you’re having on society, the environment, and your business.

You can start by setting some objectives for each of your projects and initiatives. These can be social or environmental goals (e.g. building the capacity of a charity partner, increasing the confidence of a young person, recycling more, etc.) or business goals (e.g. brand awareness, increasing employee skills, etc.). This is such a vital step that so many people miss out. Firstly, it ensures that you aren’t about to embark on a project that isn’t actually going to benefit anyone. It also makes sure that you plan each project carefully with your objectives in mind, so that you are maximising your impact. Finally, it gives you a clear metric against which to gauge how successful your projects have been, and to come up with ways to improve next time.



4) Assigning financial value to social impact

 HACT have developed an amazing tool to help you really understand the impact you’ve been having. They’ve managed to assign monetary values to many of the social impacts that your projects and initiatives might address. It’s a really useful way to prove the return on investment that your initial budget has managed to produce.

Have a look here:

5) Inspiration from others

There are plenty of companies out there doing fantastic work. Here are some of our favourites:

6) Compelling content

If you need to convince people about the importance of doing good in the first place, there is a lot of compelling stuff out there. Here are some ideas:

7) Who can help?

 If you still need some help there are loads of providers out there to help you on your ethical journey. Here are some we know of:

  • thirdbridge – software to help engage your employees and report on your impact
  • Project Dirt – help to organise large-scale, outdoors, team-building volunteering days with charities that genuinely need the support
  • Career Volunteer – support to find rewarding trustee positions for your senior staff members
  • Heart of the City – programme to help businesses get started with doing good
  • Credibly Green – help with all things environmental

work harder

For more information on any of the above, please feel free to get in touch on

How to get your employees excited about volunteering

Is your strategy around volunteering in place? Is your policy perfectly formulated? If so, congratulations – you’re ready to get your employees involved! No matter how brilliant your plans are, if nobody knows about them then your engagement levels aren’t going to be where you want them. In our experience, ~10% of your staff will be ready and raring to go without any encouragement, another ~10% will never get involved unless forced, so your efforts here are to get that middle ~80% to take part and to love it.


Here are our top tips on how to engage your employees in volunteering:

1. Make best use of internal comms

First things first, people need to actually know that your programme exists and the basic facts about how they can get involved.

There are three main points to get across:

  • the existence of the programme and the reasons why you’re running it
  • the benefits of volunteering in general
  • which specific projects and initiatives are available to them and how they can get involved.

Make best use of all channels available to you:

  • Email

Send an introductory email around with the basics, then every month or so send a little reminder with some interesting stats or info about a new project you’re running.

  • Intranet pages

Make sure all the necessary links are readily available, as well as signposts to the key info points. You can also put up the odd ad about a particularly exciting initiative.

  • Communal spaces

Think beyond the humble noticeboard and get posters up advertising specific volunteering opportunities in places where people can’t help but see it – we favour next to the kettle and on the inside of toilet doors!

  • Meetings

Ask department heads or team leaders to remind their teams about the importance of getting involved when they have catch ups.

  • Newsletters

Use internal newsletters to show off case studies of people who’ve really enjoyed their volunteering experience, or to advertise any events you might be hosting.

  • Blogs

Get your enthusiastic employees to write blogs about how much they love volunteering. You can also ask external partners to write guest blogs about their work or about relevant topics they’re experts in.

  • Social media

Get some pretty pics of your employees looking happy while volunteering on your social media – you’ll kill two birds with one stone by making the rest of your staff jealous and also showcasing your efforts to the wider world.

  • Brown bag lunches

Organise short lunchtime or breakfast events on relevant topics – this could be volunteer case studies, talks from external speakers about the psychology of volunteering, presentations from local charities who do interesting work, etc.

On average, people need to hear a piece of information seven times in seven different ways in order to properly retain it, so you’d better get creative!

2. Recruit internal champions

Tap into that ~10% of super enthusiastic ambassadors that you have at your fingertips and establish a group of employees who really care about volunteering to help you spread the word. Their natural enthusiasm will make it easy for them to help you promote it across the organisation. Make sure they’re right across the company so their reach is significant.

You can make this as formal or as informal as you like. Will this be an official role where they have actual accountability? Will they be required to take someone who has never volunteered before with them at least once? Will they host talks to let people know about their experiences and the benefits they’ve felt? Will they be incentivised?

3. Get some competition going

Everyone loves winning! Capitalise on that by creating volunteering leaderboards within teams and between teams. These could simply be based on hours volunteered or you could make it more complex depending on your specific aims and objectives. Make use of your volunteering champions to stoke the fire and get people into the competitive spirit!

4. Incentivise!

Obviously the rewards of volunteering are a gift in themselves, but sometimes a little something extra helps people get into things! You could give a prize once a quarter for the best volunteer, or perhaps consider a more democratic prize draw for everyone who has volunteered that quarter.

5. Charity donations

As people start to get passionate about the causes they’ve chosen, some additional support from their employer is very motivating. There are several ways to approach this:

  • matched donations for employees who have done some fundraising for their charity of choice
  • grants that employees who have volunteered can apply for on behalf of their chosen charity
  • a quarterly prize draw for a fixed donation to the charity of choice of the employee that wins.

6. Focus on development opportunities

This is more of a long-term goal but definitely worth keeping in mind from the start. Volunteering, particularly when skills-based, is a more effective way of developing an employee’s professional skills than traditional class based training. With HR’s support, it’s possible to map volunteering activity to employee performance and learning & development objectives that are discussed in reviews. This could include credit for saving the company money by promoting environmental initiatives, increasing sales by improving the company’s reputation through stellar local community engagement, improving their own productivity by practicing their skills in a new environment, etc.


Hopefully that’s plenty to get you started! We’d love to hear about any other methods you might be trying internally, success stories, or learning curves you might have experienced. Let’s share ideas and get more and more people out there making a difference. Good luck!



If you have any questions about engaging your employees in volunteering, would like to discuss how thirdbridge could help you with this, or would like to share any of your experiences, then we’d love to hear from you! Just drop Rose a line on!

CEB, now Gartner Pro Bono Impact Day 2017

Every yeaceb logo newr CEB, now Gartner run a Global Impact Week. It’s an incredible commitment to giving back. Every office around the world takes part and employees are encouraged to spend the week using their time and skills to make a huge difference to charities.

This year, we were lucky enough to get to be a part of this amazing week. We helped to organise a Pro Bono Impact Day which was kindly hosted at CEB, now Gartner’s London offices. 14 third sector organisations attended the day, armed with a strategic or organisational problem they needed help to solve. Based on the details of that project, we matched them with CEB, now Gartner employees who had the right skills to help them overcome their challenges.

‘It is lovely to work with charities and help them help people.’

vso group 3

‘Informative, tailored to our needs, fascinating discussion – surpassed expectations.’

Example project:

Kingston Samaritans, a branch of the national Samaritans charity local to one of CEB, now Gartner’s offices, came to the event after struggling to prospect, approach and pitch to local businesses for support. They were matched with three volunteers who embraced the challenge whole-heartedly.

In the words of Tom from Kingston Samaritans, ‘It was a pleasure to meet such analytical, charming, enthusiastic, knowledgeable and community minded people.’

I listened in to some of their discussions and every person was really engaged and the discussion was wide-ranging and inspiring. Some advice included:

  • creating a menu of simple ways a company could support them
  • asking for a meeting first rather than a donation
  • stressing to local employers that the charity supports many people in the local area, meaning that some of their employees or customers are likely to be beneficiaries
  • thinking about providing services to employers around mental health as another income stream

Kingston group

‘An amazing day of insight and sharing.’

I’m obsessed with pro bono volunteering. Just thinking about the impact that a few hours can have on a charity and its beneficiaries blows my mind. Making one operational area more efficient with some sage advice from experienced professionals can lead to exponential change within the charity. By improving HR for example, the charity will save time and money in the short-term. But by putting that practice into advice in the long-term, by choosing the best person to hire, retaining talented staff, and maximising L&D opportunities, the service that charity offers becomes better and they are able to reach more beneficiaries. It’s amazing to even think about, so seeing it happening in real life was a really emotional experience.

Working with the team at CEB, now Gartner was inspiring, and seeing how engaged every single volunteer and charity representative was reaffirmed all the reasons why I chose to work at thirdbridge in the first place.

‘A meaningful event for both charities and volunteers. Giving back is great.’

rosedelfino_bwPost by Rose – Community Development & Marketing Manager at thirdbridge.

If your company would be interested in hosting a similar event or your charity would be interested in attending one, please feel free to contact me on

Apprenticeships finally taking centre stage

This month saw the beginning of the much-discussed Apprenticeship Levy. The government sees this as the a way to create get more young people into skilled work, creating three million new apprenticeships by 2020. Those unsure about the scheme have painted it as an unfair tax on business, but we think a little push is the perfect way to show businesses how valuable working with apprentices can be.

First things first, what’s the situation with the levy?

  • Companies with a payroll of over £3m will have to contribute 0.5% through PAYE.
  • You can claim back the amount you pay in to support apprenticeship schemes.
  • If you’re not eligible for the levy, you can still access government support to take on apprentices.

Why are apprenticeships important for businesses?

A business is only as good as it’s people.

The most exciting place I’ve ever worked (apart from thirdbridge of course!) was extremely diverse. Every staff member came from totally different backgrounds, but we were united in one place by our passion for the cause we were working for. Not only did we benefit from a whole host of different viewpoints, but we were able to appeal to a whole range of stakeholders easily – everyone we spoke to could see themselves reflected in us. It made us all challenge our own attitudes and we all left as more well-rounded, open-minded people.

When a business is full of clones, it makes it difficult for innovation to happen. If every person has experienced the same thing, opportunities to be challenged on your views don’t come up as often. I find that the best ideas come when two opposing views come together but each side is open to adapting their opinion.

Apprenticeships are an opportunity to bring some new life into your business, to allow your staff to develop, and to diversify your workforce.

Why are apprentices important for young people?

Apprenticeships are another way for young people to achieve. Academic pursuits aren’t right for everyone, and often people feel pushed into either going to university or just going straight into a job. The skills and experiences that young people can gain from an apprenticeship ensure that those talented young people who make the decision not to go to university still have the chance to thrive and go on to the careers they want to have.

Why are apprentices important for society?

The training, experience, and resulting employability that comes from apprenticeships will create jobs, grow businesses, and strengthen the economy as a whole. A varied, skilled, and thriving workforce is what will keep the UK as a viable economic power, particularly in the turbulent years we have ahead of us.

How can thirdbridge help?

We can give you access to our wide range of charities and social enterprises. Partnering with organisations that are already engaged with young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, will make the whole process much easier, while also helping you to reach your diversity and inclusion goals.

Here’s a few to get you going:

Fair Train




Business perspective

Mike Freely, Managing Director of Octink had this to say:


Octink has had an apprenticeship scheme for over 10 years, ever since we originally became an Investor in People. A desire to develop young people from within the local community is at the heart of why we have such a scheme.

The main challenges for us have historically been in attracting prospective apprentices and undertaking the recruitment process. These days we are aligned with local training specialist Hawk Training in Twickenham who not only help with this need but are integral to the training framework we provide apprentices, and for their employer seminars which have helped us plan for and understand the impact the Levy will have.

The benefits are clear in being able to develop an individual often from a young age into exactly the roles you require as a business. Having those with invaluable experience provide mentoring is also positive for both sides. The financial support traditionally provided through the schemes is also useful.

Diversity is certainly achieved in terms of bringing in younger people into the organisation (and in our case certainly more females into what has traditionally been a male-dominated business) as part of our succession planning strategy.

Apprentice perspective

Tim Evans, now employed as an Apprentice Project Coordinator at Octink after an apprenticeship had this to say:


I decided to join the apprenticeship programme so I could further my education while also being in full-time employment.

Without the apprenticeship, I wouldn’t be at this stage of my career by now. It might have taken years of further education or industry experience.

I’ve learned how to more effectively manage time and priorities regarding workload in a professional environment. I’ve also become more proficient with certain IT functions, such as creating reports and databases.

The best thing about being an apprentice has been completing and experiencing first-hand the work required of a Project Manager, while at the same time learning the wider syllabus for this position through my tutor and course resources.

If you need help putting together an strategy for placing or hosting apprentices, feel free to get in touch on 

How to advertise the support you need on thirdbridge


We love playing match-maker but our dream is to step back and let you find each other without our help. We’re growing steadily and we’re finally going to have our first big influx of volunteers. Yay!

This means that people are going to be looking for opportunities. So, you need to make sure you’re as appealing as possible to attract the attention you deserve.

If you’re using the thirdbridge network as a charity or social enterprise, these are the three most important things to remember when adding an opportunity for a company or volunteer to support you:

  1. Each individual opportunity should be a separate entry

There may be companies or volunteers on the network who are only able to help with one thing and you don’t want to put anybody off by sticking everything in together. Think of it this way: the more opportunities you have, the more companies or volunteers you can potentially engage with.

  1. Be clear about what is required for each opportunity

Don’t select every support category! If you select ‘money’ on a volunteering opportunity it might make people think twice about getting involved. Your overall profile is linked to every category you’ve selected, so you’ll come up in searches as an organisation.

  1. Stay on topic

We know everything you do at your charity is amazing. We know that you would benefit from all different kinds of support. However, focus on one thing at a time and showcase each opportunity properly rather than trying to cram everything into one.

The trickiest part is deciding which support category best suits your opportunity. But don’t worry – we’ve got you covered! Have a look at these guides that explain exactly what each one means, and shows you an example for each one:




















If your opportunity is a bit more long-term, strategic, or complex, you can also combine the support categories in any way you like. There’s two examples here:

If you have any questions, need any support, or would like us to add opportunities on your behalf, then just let us know! Contact Rose on

Opportunities with multiple support categories

Part of a series of posts to clarify use of support categories, and to help our charity users create the best possible opportunities for support!

If your opportunity is longer-term, more strategic, or complex, it might be necessary to select multiple support categories. You’re free to select as many as you like but try to make sure they are definitely relevant.

Some examples when selecting multiple categories would make sense could include:

  • a charity of the year partnership
  • developing a new technology product together
  • multi-faceted support to implement a new project
  • volunteering on a project that requires both skilled and unskilled hours
  • funding a project through a company donation and employee fundraising

Shining examples:





For more information about the individual categories try People, Expertise, FundraisingMoneyThings, or Other.

You can also check out our step by step guide on how to create the perfect opportunity.

Support category #1: People

#1 in a series of posts to clarify what each support category means, and to help our charity users create the best possible opportunities for support!

Select the People category if you need volunteers for community or unskilled volunteering.

Some examples include:

  • mentoring young people from disadvantaged communities
  • reading with children struggling with literacy
  • putting on an event for isolated elderly people at a community centre
  • serving food at a soup kitchen
  • tidying up a community garden

Shining example:


Not the support you’re looking for? Try Expertise, Fundraising, Money, ThingsOther, or Multiple Categories.

You can also check out our step by step guide on how to create the perfect opportunity.

Support category #2: Expertise

#2 in a series of posts to clarify what each support category means, and to help our charity users create the best possible opportunities for support!

Select the Expertise category if you need volunteers to help with their professional skills.

Some examples include:

  • a lawyer reviewing a legal contract
  • a graphic designer creating some leaflets
  • a marketing professional designing a social media strategy
  • an accountant going over the organisation’s financial records
  • a management consultant helping with the creation of a business plan

Shining example:


Not the support you’re looking for? Try People, Fundraising, Money, Things, Other, or Multiple categories.

You can also check out our step by step guide on how to create the perfect opportunity.

Support category #3: Fundraising

#3 in a series of posts to clarify what each support category means, and to help our charity users create the best possible opportunities for support!

Select the Fundraising category if you need employees to raise funds for you.

Some examples include:

  • helping at a public bucket collection
  • running a sponsored marathon
  • hosting a company bake sale
  • taking part in a bag packing session at a supermarket
  • a sponsored sky dive


Not the support you’re looking for? Try People, Expertise, Money, Things, Other, or Multiple categories.

You can also check out our step by step guide on how to create the perfect opportunity.