Whether you call it philanthropy, charity or corporate social responsibility, the desire to help others has grown, even under the uncertainty of a recovering economy.
In fact, according to a report from Reuters, individual giving grew nearly 4 percent in 2012 while corporate giving increased at three times that rate.
In addition, the Motley Fool has said that more than 50 percent of Fortune 500 companies now produce a Corporate Social Responsibility report along with their annual reports.
Why? And should your company be joining them? Here are a few things to think about.
1. What’s good for your community is good for you
When you support a charitable organization, you’re supporting the community, and strong communities make great places to build a business.
Help build a town with lots of amenities and services, safe neighborhoods and healthy, educated citizens, and you’ve got a great place for you and your staffers to work and live.
In addition, you’ll build a community that attracts prospective employees, giving you pools of skilled and educated people from which to recruit.
2. People want to work at companies that care
The nonprofit Net Impact found that the majority of employees and students polled for their study “What Workers Want in 2012” said that they have a personal responsibility to make things better for society.
And more than half of the participants – 53 percent of workers and 65 percent of students – said that making a contribution to society was very important to their ideal job. Most striking, nearly half the students said they’d take a 15 percent pay cut for a job that makes a social or environmental impact.
3. People buy from companies they like
Though it may be a little self-serving, it’s also true. It probably shouldn’t be the only reason your company chooses to give, but it should certainly be a good reason to consider.
Consumers don’t always buy rationally; they buy emotionally. If they like your company, they’ll use you. If they don’t, they’ll use one of your competitors.
A report from Cone Communications and Echo Research may say it best: “CSR (corporate social responsibility) remains a powerful differentiator, influencing both consumer behavior and corporate reputation. The business case for CSR remains extremely compelling, particularly as companies battle ever-increasing competition and declining consumer confidence.”
4. You are what you do
Companies are learning that what they do speaks louder than what they say. That’s why companies like Tom’s shoes and Warby Parker eyewear are known for giving away one of their products to the needy with every product you buy.
Even small businesses sponsor high school baseball teams or designate days when they’ll offer a percentage of their proceeds to a specific charity.
People want to help, and if you can make it easy for them to help while promoting your company’s caring culture, so much the better.
5. Give but do it strategically
So what can you do? You may not have $3 billion of stock to donate to charities like Warren Buffett, but every company can give something.
Like any other business decision, though, the choice of what to give and who to give it to should be done in a thoughtful manner. Whether you donate money, volunteer time or give in-kind services, you need to manage the process like you would manage any other business decision.
- Decide on a budget and then think about what kinds of charities make sense with your organization.
- Think about where you can best use your company’s skills or make the biggest impact. If you’re in the food industry, you might support your local food bank. If you’re an accounting firm, help a nonprofit with their books.
- Do your homework. Vet organizations through services like guidestar.org or the Better Business Bureau.
- Make sure your charity understands the value of what you’re contributing and don’t be afraid to ask for receipts. Talk to your tax specialist about what you can write off.
- If streams of requests interrupt your work day, consider setting up a simple web page and take requests only online. This also makes it easier for you to say no when you have to.
Mostly, give from your heart. Don’t just give because it’s good for your company, do it because it’s good for all.
Want some other ideas? Insperity is dedicated to public service and encourages its employees to join in. See more here.