The surprising benefits of supporting a charity

Paul Crow, MD of Ripples, explains how and why the company is supporting a charity that provides much-needed sanitation facilities, hygiene services and education programmes to poorer communities in India

I have a confession. In 2010, when I first met David Crosweller, founder of the charity called The Cycle, some of my motives were a little selfish. I thought it would be good for Ripples to show its customers that we were a caring bunch as I had read a business article regarding how the future was ‘the economy of trust and kindness’. Rather crudely, I wanted Ripples to have a charity badge on our website.

We chose The Cycle because they built toilets in places where people were dying due to poor or no sanitation. It could not have been more opposite to our world of bathrooms, so we rolled up our sleeves to see what we could do.

“Sanitation is obviously a subject at the very heart of the KBB industry and yet I have learnt more about it from The Cycle than I ever could in Ripples”

At that time, they were building Ecosan toilets in villages and schools that would change the lives of local people. It seemed so wrong that the solution was this simple, but it was and is. After funding toilets, came a small sanitary towel-making business as our fundraising took on greater momentum with fashion shows, horse racing nights and London to Paris type bike rides.

And then came the funding of the large-scale toilet block at a school for disabled children called the Oasis Trust, which had India’s first DEWATS in a school – a toilet where the waste is cleaned and usable as water for the school’s kitchen.

Having now visited India to see the work that The Cycle and their team undertake, we have never been more motivated to help them. And it’s not just me. Everyone from the company has been very supportive, donating, helping and asking how they can do more. It’s become quite inspiring to see everyone pull together for this ‘new’ cause. Our motives for talking about their work have gone from selfish to selfless and it’s been enjoyable in the process.

Our most recent effort was a bike ride from Bath to Edinburgh and it raised over £25,000 for The Cycle and was well supported by people within Ripples and across the industry. We all know exactly where and how that money is being used and it’s hugely touching when you see the volunteers and riders taking great pride in their fund-raising efforts – when their initial motive, like mine, was simply to have some fun. There really are no downsides.

Sanitation is obviously a subject at the very heart of the KBB industry and yet I have learnt more about it from The Cycle than I ever could in Ripples. It doesn’t mean that everyone should rush out to support them, but I do now firmly believe that every company can benefit by having a common charity that they support and involve the whole team in.


Paul Crow on a visit to India to see the results of Ripples’ support firsthand

Beyond the motivation, feel-good factor and fun undertaking cycling events, is the education we are all receiving on issues we have in the main closed our mind to. We now understand the impact of good education in poor communities, running water, clean reservoirs, toilets that produce Humanure and how a £12.50 training session on menstruation might change a young girl’s life forever.

We have also met the individuals working behind the scenes in the UK and India and a warm relationship has developed as a result.

I hope you can forgive me for the indulgence on this subject, as it’s pretty obvious it’s now got a little under our skin. That charity badge we once sought is now on our website, but it’s not as satisfying to see as the Ripples logo that now decorates the Oasis Trust school. If you are thinking about taking on a charity project, whatever your own motives, I urge you to do so, as it really is nothing but good news. A call to David Crosweller would be a good start.

To learn more about The Cycle and the work they do around improving gender equality through the provision of water, sanitation, hygiene services and menstrual education programmes, visit www.thecycle. world. If you wish to help the cause and donate, you can do so via their website and it would be greatly appreciated by all those at The Cycle, Ripples and those you will be helping.

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