The charity provide free social care services including food and shelter for the homeless. © AFP/Getty Images
The charity provide free social care services including food and shelter for the homeless. © AFP/Getty Images

Salvation Army 'goes beyond' by partnering with suppliers

Procurement in The Salvation Army focuses on partnering with firms and “going beyond just seeing suppliers as a source of goods or services”. 

The charity includes requirements in contracts to ensure the supplier will provide services in alignment with their “frontline mission” to help the community, bringing added value as well as their main services.

Speaking at The Salvation Army’s first supplier conference in London, Andrew Roper, procurement director at organisation, who set up the procurement department three years ago, said: “The importance of supplier relationships and going beyond just seeing suppliers as a source of goods or services – that’s what this conference is about. 

“[It’s] looking at broader ways we can work with our suppliers and partner with them so they can buy in and join the mission of Salvation Army as opposed to just paying for goods or services.”

The Salvation Army provides social care services, such as homeless hostels, disability services, employment services, community centres, children’s support services, human trafficking and modern slavery prevention and support. 

The charity has an annual turnover of £300m with £160m spend on their 8,000 suppliers, including local, SME companies and large corporations.

Roper said: “I think for the sector as a whole any procurement is about focusing on who your stakeholders are and who your customers are and having them front of mind.

“We’re not doing projects for procurement’s sake or for saving’s sake, but to make sure that the contracts we put in place really benefit those on the frontline, either those that we’re serving or the officers that support them directly.” 

The Salvation Army’s partnership with retailer The Entertainer on the Christmas Big Toy Appeal, which provides children’s presents for families that can’t afford them, is one example.

Over 40,000 toys were given to children last Christmas directly from the partnership.

The charity also works closely with food services and facilities firm Aramark, which provides catering and cleaning at homeless hostels. 

Roper said: “Part of our contract with Aramark is to make sure that they provide services with some added value to the Lifehouses [hostels]. We’ve had someone who was homeless who came to a hostel and started volunteering there. Through the skills-for-life programme which we included in the contract they’ve now got employment with them and have gone on to become an award-winning employee. 

“That’s an example of what we do to add things like that into the negotiation and contract to make sure that we’re going beyond the normal KPIs.”

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