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Crown Worldwide NZ Ltd’s partnership with The Salvation Army has become a lasting example of how ‘corporate citizenship’ not only transforms the community, but is great for business.

In 2011, staff at well-known moving company Crown Worldwide New Zealand voted to make The Salvation Army its ‘charity of choice’, and has since forged a lasting and valuable partnership. Awarded the rare ‘Valued Partner’ accolade by The Salvation Army, the company’s passion for social responsibility makes ‘perfect business sense’, says Crown New Zealand’s Country Manager James Logan.

Around 200 Crown staff from all over the country were asked to choose which charity the company should get behind: ‘A lot of people have connections to The Salvation Army, it has a strong sense of purpose and the Sallies know who they are,’ says James, on why the Army came out on top.

Crown created the ‘Big Sallies Surprise’, where they put together events and surprised the Army with its massive fundraising efforts. One of its early events was a sponsored New Zealand Breakers basketball game, which is still a highlight for James – and ‘created an absolute monster,’ he laughs.

As a former professional basketball coach, James has maintained strong ties with the basketball community. Using a Breakers home game as the penultimate event in a series of activities that involved Crown staff, suppliers and customers, this fundraiser exceeded all expectations. Over 100,000 cans of food and $50,000 in food product were sourced and donated to the Sallies foodbank’s around New Zealand.

Giving back

‘Corporate responsibility is very important to us,’ reflects James. ‘Giving back to the community is one of our founding principles, but it also makes great corporate sense because it gives people in the company a sense of belonging – so there is a real feel-good factor.’

This ethos of social responsibility has been shaped across Crown’s footprint of 50 countries by their chairman and founder, Jim Thompson. His passion for assisting the people in underserved communities is something he’s passed on to his company as a core value, it is embedded in Crown’s DNA. What started as a personal mission has evolved to be a Crown- worldwide initiative.

“I’m in the fortunate position to have so many employees who want to positively impact their communities, and to be able to encourage and support them to do so. It’s now a big part of the Crown mission. I’m very proud of that.” Jim Thompson

With sustainability becoming an important component of CSR, it even has the added benefit of saving the company money – since a sustainable company uses less paper, electricity, water and so forth. Crown recently purchased FIL Furniture, a company that specialises in re-selling upcycled office furniture. ‘We are moving towards being a completely circular economy and ensuring there is no waste around office clearances,’ says James.

Last year, Crown and FIL sponsored a complete office re-fit for The Salvation Army’s Northern Division offices, using only pre-loved, upcycled furniture. It transformed dark office cubicles, fondly called ‘the bull pens’, into a ‘modern, collaborate space,’ says FIL sales manager Rhiannon Sims.

‘What was really impressive was that the Sallies staff were thrilled with the upgrade not just because it was nice, but because they felt they could do better work for their people in the new environment,’ says James. ‘I have tremendous respect for the work the Sallies do, and the caring attitude they have – and we aspire to be that ourselves.’

Whenever there is a need …

In another impressive example of ‘extreme upcycling’, Crown recently partnered with the Oaks Shores suites in Queenstown, which was undergoing extensive renovations. Crown was contracted to remove the furniture, but approached the body corporate about donating furniture that was no longer needed. Together, they sent seven containers of high-end apartment furniture to Salvation Army centres around the country.

Much of the furniture went to transitional housing, helping create a warm and friendly environment. It helped transform houses into homes for the 59 new residents at Te Hononga Tāngata, the Salvation Army’s social housing development in Royal Oak, Auckland. It even helped a family who had lost everything in a house fire begin rebuilding their lives.

James says that whenever there is a need, Crown staff are keen to help. When Cyclone Winston devastated Fiji in 2016, The Salvation Army launched an appeal. ‘We immediately wondered what we could do’, recalls James.

So he approached their business partners Royal Wolf Containers and shipping company Maersk— and together they undertook 14 sailings to Fiji with containers of relief and rebuilding supplies. Ingeniously, once the containers had been emptied, they were repurposed as garden sheds around Fiji.

Only last year, Crown donated a warehouse full of goods in a ‘Mega Pop Up Family Store’, held at the Crown Warehouse in Petone, Wellington. It attracted a crowd of thousands, and raised well over the goal of $40,000 for the Sallies.

But as well as these showstoppers, Crown has incorporated its partnership with The Salvation Army into its everyday practices. Crown provides a branded “Giving Back” carton for every move, so customers can donate unwanted goods to The Family Store. Crown staff can gift unused annual leave to The Salvation Army as cash, and each branch throughout New Zealand has sponsored a child in the Pacific through the Army’s Cherish a Child programme.

Valued Partners

Perhaps surprisingly, James says that it’s not difficult to keep coming up with fundraising ideas. ‘Whenever we put the call out, we always have so many staff members who are keen to contribute. It’s not a hardship for us, people are so passionate about it, they put their own time into it and they love The Salvation Army,’ he says.

Crown was the fifth recipient to receive The Salvation Army’s ‘Valued Partner’ Award in New Zealand. ‘We only give these awards out to exceptional partners,’ says Salvation Army Public Relations Manager Tim Hamilton. ‘Crown is so creative, always finding opportunities to contribute-and consistently delivers far beyond our expectations. We’re so grateful for this partnership, which has made a difference to so many people in need around New Zealand and beyond.’

No matter what your business, there are ways you can contribute to the community, adds Tim. ‘Crown is a storage and logistics company, but constantly finds innovative ways of using its resources – whether its fundraising or using its vast transport network to get items to those who need it most. No matter what business you’re in, The Salvation Army can use your skills.’

James is immensely proud of being a ‘valued partner’. ‘It meant everything to us, we feel so privileged to be involved in helping the community and we have immense respect for the Sallies,’ he says.

This article was written by Ingrid Barratt of The Salvation Army.