6 min read
The opinions expressed by the entrepreneur's contributors are their own.
It goes without saying that 2020 was a pretty difficult year in many ways. The world economy took a significant blow with unprecedented unemployment and news broadcasts highlighted the record number of people turning to food banks for support. Perhaps you know someone who lost their job this year or you are in this unfortunate boat.
If it doesn't, count yourself lucky and do what you can to bring a little more good into the world. The holiday season – and December in particular – makes up 30 percent of annual donations, but building a corporate culture where giving occurs year round has numerous benefits. For starters, it just feels good to make a positive difference, and that positivity seeps through people. Companies that regularly engage in philanthropic causes report happier employees. As you may already know, happier employees make more productive employees (13 percent more productive to be precise) and, overall, a more productive and successful company.
Giving back is good for your brand – plain and simple
In addition to being effective in helping others – the most important reason to give – and having happier employees overall, companies that embrace the philanthropic spirit are seen as more valued by consumers. As former St. Louis Rams player Torry Holt points out in reference to the NFL's relationship with the United Way, "giving back evokes emotion and promotes an authentic connection." It is this type of relationship that today's consumers in a business take note of. According to a 2016 survey, most millennials prefer companies that are actively involved in charity.
Related: 4 Ways Your Business Can Benefit From The Return
When a company goes to charity, it not only benefits the direct recipients of this donation, but also its employees and customers. Now that we've addressed the benefits of creating a culture of giving in an organization, how can leaders go about actually engaging them in their organization?
1. Volunteer days
It shouldn't be difficult to instill the spirit of giving in your employees, and there is a good chance many of them already have reasons that they are passionate about. One of the best ways to get team members passionate about these purposes is to volunteer for a day or even a week. The concept is simple and incredibly effective: a company allows a specific number of days that employees have time to volunteer for the charity of their choice.
Some companies may simply allow employees to choose an organization to work with, while others offer a selection of charities or nonprofits that employees can choose from. Team leaders can also opt for a majority rule and let employees vote on which charities the company would like to partner with to volunteer with. Incorporating volunteer days into a company not only encourages camaraderie among employees, but also encourages relationships within the community.
2. Borrow your resources
Another important way businesses can have a positive impact on their communities is by taking the pro bono path and making their resources available for free. If your business has extra space that isn't used on weekends or at night, consider reaching out to a nonprofit and offering it up.
Related: Here are legitimate fundraisers that are helping small businesses damaged and destroyed
One of the most beneficial ways a company can offer its resources is through the knowledge of its employees. Whether you offer a company time through a mentoring program (e.g. graphic design) or through a pro bono service (e.g. legal advice or tax preparation) for the less fortunate, these fundraisers can build meaningful relationships and have a dramatic impact on the lives of others.
3. Engage your customers
We have already touched on the fact that consumers see nonprofits in a more positive light. So why not include these customers in the donation? It's easy for a company to just write a check and give it to a charity, but it's more complete when they bring their customers on the stage. Business matching programs are a fantastic way to do this and, with the right structure, can be a robust way to generate substantial donations.
Another way to get your customers involved is to encourage recurring donations to nonprofits. Applications like Donorbox or GoFundMe make it incredibly easy for companies to integrate donations into their existing website. Creating incentives that engage the consumer can not only provide the much-needed financial assistance, but also create a stronger connection between a business and its customer base.
4. Become an event sponsor
Sponsoring a community nonprofit event is another way for companies to provide their support and incorporate a spirit of philanthropy into the existing corporate culture. There are tons of ways a company can sponsor a community event. Contributing only financially is probably the most common – and often the most urgent – but even with that there are options: sweepstakes, silent auctions, etc.
Often times, nonprofit events also require volunteers or a place to host an event. Therefore, there are various ways a company can sponsor an event. Whether financially or through its resources, when a company joins a nonprofit event, it shows a level of commitment to the community it serves.
Related: 3 Ways To Give Back Something That Doesn't Require Financial Investment
Business leaders should consider giving back an investment and employ a similar ROI strategy when deciding how to give, just as they would with any business decision. Building a culture of giving in your company shouldn't be complicated, and incorporating different strategies will produce the best results – both externally and internally.