Not-for-profit energy switching service saves over £100,000 for businesses while helping boost charities

Not-for-profit energy switching service saves over £100,000 for businesses while helping boost charities

A national energy and telecoms switching consultancy has helped businesses to save over £80,000 on their energy bills and reinvested £16,000 in grants to their charity customers thanks to its innovative concept.

SwitchAid, based in Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, is a not-for-profit social enterprise which helps businesses and homes divert cash to the third sector which they might normally pay as commission to brokers or comparison websites.

The pioneering energy and communications fundraising scheme gives back over 65% of its profits to the local community and has already unlocked over £100,000. The founders decided to set the businesses up in a way that would require them to give back to their community.

SwitchAid.org Director Dom Ryan said: “Our whole ethos is to generate revenue that can be redirected into the local community, cash that would normally be lost to energy and telecoms companies and consultants who keep the hefty commissions.

“As a business we choose to put our profits into good causes; as we are a registered Community Interest Company the percentage of our profits we do this with has to be 65% or over.

“SwitchAid.org is specifically designed to support the local community, improve the sustainability of third sector organisations and offer an ethical option in the energy and telecoms sectors notorious for sharp business practices.”

One organisation that has benefited from the scheme is charity YMCA North Tyneside, which has saved almost £24,000 and is set to receive a grant of over £680. The substantial cash windfall and energy savings will help its future sustainability and the delivery of vital services to young people and their families in the region.

YMCA North Tyneside operations manager Rachel Dyne signed up to SwitchAid.org toward the end of last year after a long standing energy contract came up for renewal. As a charity YMCA North Tyneside helps at least 500 young people with 42 beds located in North Shields, a gym and community café team.

They also offer youth centres and support for families who find themselves struggling for a range of reasons, to have guidance, support and help from the YMCA team.

Rachel said: “The money we have saved and the significant grant we are receiving from SwitchAid.org will go towards maintaining the valuable services we provide to the hundreds of young people who often only need a friendly face and a little extra help to get them back on track with their lives.

“As a charity we provide an invaluable service to young people and the families of young people who find themselves in very difficult positions confronted with the reality of social and economic deprivation, isolation or have children with complex needs. We can offer accommodation, guidance and sign posting to advice and support services.”

The REfUSE Café in Chester-Le-Street, Co Durham – which turns waste food into healthy meals – also signed up and is looking to receive a boost from the grants. REfUSE Café is part of the UK-wide The Real Junk Food Project, a network of organisations challenging surplus levels of food waste, operating on a ‘Pay As You Feel Basis’ and is entirely run by volunteers.

Nikki Dravers, a co-founder of REfUSE, said: “SwitchAid.org has been great, they contacted us last year at a time when we were in the middle of stressful building work trying to get the café ready to open and we were approached by various energy consultants who I felt were trying to hoodwink and exploit us.

“What SwitchAid has done is advise not sell, which has taken away all the worry about our energy supplier. This will potentially unlock hundreds of pounds on a regular basis and by supporting us in this way SwitchAid is contributing toward making our not-for-profit business model more sustainable.”

SwitchAid can either work directly with the third sector – helping charitable organisations to cut their bills and win grant funding – or with individuals and businesses that can nominate a preferred good cause to benefit from the savings they make.

  • Co Durham Childs Play Private Nursery is one organisation that has benefitted from the scheme, receiving £1,330 in grants while at the same time saving £700 on energy costs and £1,440 on mobile phone costs. Laura Davies managing director of Childs Play Private Nursery said: “We’ve used the additional funds given to us from SwitchAid to freshen up our new nurseries. Some paint throughout will make a world of difference and give the families a feeling of positivity as they transitioned from the old owners to the new. Thanks again to SwitchAid, who were a huge help from the start which meant being able to concentrate on setting up and running my new nurseries.”
  • Ferryhill Sport and Education Centre also saved £14,473 while gaining £5,000 in grants from SwitchAid. Andrew Hubbard, chair of the Ferryhill Community Partnership, the charity behind the sport and education centre, said: “We’ve been able to give the people what they asked for by setting up a new soccer school which is now being used by about 50 school children a week.”
  • The Teesdale Community Resource hub has saved over £20,000 on energy costs and raised £1,400 in grant value. Jonny Elliot started as a volunteer himself and now manages the venue and is also responsible for outdoor pursuits. He said: “We offer a huge variety of activities and schools from across the region come to take advantage of our indoor and outdoor spaces. The SwitchAid.org savings and cash grant helps us keep the doors open and offer the huge range of activities we do. If we can save money on our bills, then its cash that can then be better focused on helping us deliver our much needed services. We know what we offer is almost unique and explains why we get regular visits from groups as far away as Mencap in Kirklees as well as fantastic local support from many of the schools and community groups in the North East.”