Step by Step's Partnership with Zurich Community Trust

  • 13 September 2019

Step by Step has been working with Zurich Community Trust, the charitable arm of Zurich in the UK, since 2015. For the last two years, Step by Step has been one of their multi-year funding partners, working with the Zurich offices in Farnborough and Fareham to make social impact together.

Zurich Community Trust (ZCT) is one of the longest-established corporate trusts in the UK and is one of the most effective corporate trusts that Step by Step has worked with.

Anda Chiu, Senior Fundraising Manager at Step by Step, got together with Kerry Chambers, the Programme Manager at ZCT, to find out what makes it such a successful programme.

What is the purpose of ZCT?

Through a range of grant-making, fundraising and volunteering programmes, ZCT has one aim – helping to support a more resilient and inclusive society. It was set up with the idea to encourage people who worked at Zurich to give time and money within their working day.

How does ZCT support their employees to get involved?

ZCT works closely with the Zurich UK business. It's imbedded within the business culture and open to all Zurich employees. Part of the Zurich induction programme is to learn about ZCT and how they can support it. ZCT is made up of a team of people spread out over the UK to help communicate the programme to Zurich employees on an on-going basis.

Zurich employees are encouraged to engage with their local community through Zurich's UK-wide policy entitling employees to three days' paid leave a year to spend out in the community. This increased from two days to three in January 2018, as it was so popular and we felt it was an effective employee engagement resource.

Summer and Festive challenge are key team-building opportunities. It's a free and effective way to spread ZCT support into the community. Employees fundraise in teams in the build-up of the challenge day so it doesn't cost charities a penny. Teams can spend a day to get to know each other on a personal level and do some good at the same time. People also get the chance to develop skills in a soft way, for example, someone wanting to develop leadership skills could take the lead in organising a summer challenge day for a team of 10+ people. Most importantly, the employees want to do it. ZCT just provides the opportunity; it's not compulsory.

Why do you think employees enjoy it so much?

Zurich Employees do serious work every day. It's nice to do something to give back to the community. It's completely voluntary and there are so many options on how employees can get involved. Some like to go out in the community, some prefer to support in-house fundraising activities, others would rather share a specific skill - it's all valuable.

Employee surveys show that they are proud to work at Zurich. Charities are also offered the chance to give feedback after every project, so it helps continuously improve and shape ZCT in a meaningful way.

What are your top tips for companies thinking of introducing community engagement into their business?

  • Get it into your HR policy. It shows that you are serious about it, and that it is something you support as a company.
  • Business needs comes first, but if something comes up, reschedule rather than cancel it. It minimises disruption to both the charity and the team that's working towards it if ideas are not cancelled last minute.
  • Lead it top down - the CEO always gets involved in challenges, as do many of the managers.
  • Start small so it is not such a drastic and uphill climb. Small commitments mean a higher chance of employees taking it up.
  • Respect people's preferences by offering choice - provide opportunities to give up time, skills or money.
  • Think about sustainability, longevity and manageability.

Anda added, “We've taken up a number of their summer and festive challenge days. The staff are always so friendly and self-sufficient. We love working with ZCT. I think they see it as an opportunity rather than a tick box exercise. Done well it can make a lasting impact to the community whilst engaging, motivating and ultimately retaining staff. If your employees are proud of what you stand for, they will be proud to work for you and stay.”

To find out more about partnering with Step by Step, please contact our Corporate Partnerships Team on 01252 346107 or email