You’ve spent long hours building your company, and your community has played a role in your success. Is it time to think about giving back – not only because you think it’s the right thing to do, but also for all the great things that can happen as a result?
Companies that put their values into action through corporate giving and volunteerism see increased employee engagement, greater brand visibility and higher employee retention, according to a report by the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship.
What is corporate citizenship?
Corporate citizenship, also known as corporate social responsibility, can include anything from volunteering and financial giving to establishing environmental standards for your business. It all focuses on social issues and the role that your business plays in helping to solve them.
Corporate giving and employee volunteer programs are often the first steps toward a company’s corporate citizenship program. Corporate giving includes financial and in-kind contributions to an organization, while an employee volunteer program provides opportunities or recognizes efforts of your employees.
Having an understanding of corporate philanthropy is important to building an effective, sustainable community involvement program. It starts with being proactive.
Don’t get behind the 8 ball
Most philanthropy tends to be reactive as you receive numerous requests for donations – both financial and in goods and services. In addition to being disruptive to your day, it also brings up questions that you may not have thought about:
- To whom should I donate?
- How much should I give?
- How do I balance these requests?
- How do I handle requests from employees?
Turn these questions into opportunities to create a proactive philanthropic strategy. Here’s how:
- Decide how much you’re willing to set aside annually for social investment. Now, you’ll be able to budget appropriately and manage your giving throughout the year.
- Determine what portion of giving will be through monetary donations and how much will be in-kind goods and services. Can you offer graphic design services if you’re an artist? Or how about providing meals for a bike ride if you run a restaurant? What are the unknown costs of providing in-kind donations vs. money (worker hours and time, for example)?
- Some requests come straight from a nonprofit, while others come from your employees on behalf of an organization. You’ll need to decide which requests take priority.
- What kinds of organizations will receive your time and attention? The best alliances are with agencies that share your company’s values.
- Develop a page on your website devoted to your charitable efforts. This will tell the community where you focus your efforts and how to make a request for a donation.
Which type are you?
Strategic giving programs basically fall into two categories: strategic social investment and general business philanthropy.
A strategic social investment strategy identifies a cause aligned with your business and an organization that addresses that issue. The purpose is to move the needle for a social cause that has the potential to positively impact your business or industry.
To get started:
- Review your mission statement and business practices.
- Identify societal obstacles facing your business or industry.
- Locate one or two nonprofits that address these issues.
- Decide to what extent you would like to partner with them.
General business philanthropy, on the other hand, is a program where you give to local nonprofits no matter whether they align with your business strategy. These requests typically come through employees who are affiliated with the charity or directly from the charity itself.
To get started:
- Find local organizations that you would like to support.
- Align with organizations where your employees actively volunteer.
- Provide information on your website about how to ask for donations or volunteers.
Employees will be a driving force to any corporate social responsibility program. They will look to you to facilitate and organize events, but they’ll also bring their own passions to the program. Your involvement can help multiply their efforts either through providing matching funds, additional volunteers, financial support and/or visibility.
Employee engagement and retention are two byproducts of implementing a corporate social responsibility program. People want to work for companies that care. Nearly 90 percent of companies in a Boston College study said they found a positive correlation between volunteer participation and employee engagement.
Doing good isn’t the only motivator for employees to be community-minded. According to a Cone Communications study, personal goals, such as professional growth and financial incentives, also motivate. Of those surveyed, here are the highest percentages for what motivates employees:
- 87% – Professional growth
- 85% – Making a meaningful difference
- 85% – Financial incentives such as bonuses or gift cards
- 79% – Personal recognition
- 76% – A meaningful experience such as exploring new places, meeting new people
- 74% – Perks such as a parking space or casual Fridays or early release
Keep it going
Once you have a program in place and your employees are involved in its success, it isn’t time to go on autopilot. These types of initiatives take care and feeding – and sometimes a little tweaking. Here’s how to keep things fresh:
- Periodically survey your employees and their philanthropic interests and get their feedback on the current program.
- Encourage employees to develop relationships in the community through membership and special interest programs to expand your reach.
- Stay connected to issues facing your local communities because each is an opportunity to serve.
- Share your activities through social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
Wondering where to start or how to boost your own community involvement program? Download our free magazine, The Insperity Guide to Corporate Social Responsibility.