Provide communities with resources
Expertise, knowledge and talent are not the only assets the University has to share with local communities. Sometimes, it may be possible to provide very tangible items: use of rooms, equipment, collections of items needed by charities, or even raffle prizes. Providing these items may seem straightforward, but there are a few things that need to be considered.
For staff wanting to learn more about donations and reuse of equipment, please check out the following links:
1/ Do you know that communities definitely want or need what you’re offering?
It is very easy for the precise nature of what is required to get lost in transmission, especially when there is urgency to the requests (as during the Covid-19 pandemic). This can mean you spend time collecting items that don’t help. Try and always speak to the person in the community organisation who is on the frontline of distributing what has been requested. They will be able to tell you the specification needed. At the very least, ask a couple of clarifying questions of whomever has come to you with the request.
If you have not received a direct request but want to assist local community partners, avoid surmising what they might need – do your research (even if it’s just scouting out their social media). Receiving, storing and/or disposing of resources that cannot be used costs community partners a lot in time and possibly money. Some may not feel able to say they do not want what you are offering.
2/ Who owns the resources you’re giving?
Quite simply – are they yours to share or give? If items are University-owned, there are important steps to follow regarding procurement, data protection, insurance, liability, health and safety, fairness, transfer of ownership and/or end-of-life disposal. This ensures that publicly-funded resources are appropriately used and that the University upholds its commitments.
If the items you’re offering are personally-owned by staff or students, then University policies and procedures do not apply to their donation. However, there will still be things you want to keep in mind:
- Do any staff or students being asked to donate feel free to say ‘no’? (Not everyone may be in a position to donate.)
- Will these resources be collected and offered/donated on University or personal time?
- If communications are being done about any donations, is the tone right? For example, is there any risk of institutional credit being taken for something that was given on a solely personal basis?
3/ Is any request received reasonable?
Assuming all legal obligations and relevant policies are met, this may depend on what you personally understand the purpose of your role and the University to be. It may also depend on your relationship with the community partner more generally. Ultimately, this may be a largely personal decision.
It can sometimes be mind-boggling trying to do something quite simple! The Community Team has accumulated substantial experience around providing resources for local communities. If you would like their advice, just get in touch.