Businesses hold a unique position within a local community. Executives, employees and staff live in the communities in which they work and most believe it’s important to better the lives of those around them. In fact, high profile business leaders like Sir Richard Branson and Arianna Huffington believe that a commitment to the planet and its people is just as important for business as profits. When a company incorporates helping others into its business philosophy everyone benefits.
Ways to Help
Corporations in general seem to be moving away from a model of profit at all cost to a more socially responsible approach. There are a number of ways businesses both large and small can make a difference in their communities and around the world.
Building a culture of giving begins at the top. One way to give back is by starting a nonprofit company arm. Charitable foundations are not costly to start or run. A community foundation with a specified mission is one of the best ways to funnel money into local causes. Executives and shareholders can also dedicate a specific profit percentage to a charitable organization or mission. When business leaders take the lead, the entire company follows.
Ideally, the cause companies choose to support should tie into the business, have the support of the staff, be of interest to its customer base and relevant to the needs within the community. For example, an office-supply store might choose to collect money for or provide school supplies to local classrooms.
Shorter duration charitable activities can be held throughout the year to meet the needs of various community members. Try some of the following suggestions:
Create a staff volunteer day where staff and business leaders get together to paint an older person’s home, clean up around the park or volunteer at the food bank.
Hold a collection drive for local animal shelters, food banks or other nonprofit organizations.
Become a Secret Santa during the holiday season to provide gifts for an underprivileged family.
A few innovative companies have begun offering workers a paid day off to volunteer at an organization of their choice.
The Advantages of Giving
Incorporating charitable giving into company culture is a sure way to boost employee morale. Not only that, but research indicates that volunteering makes for healthier employees who are absent from work less often and experience lower rates of depression, high blood pressure, heart disease and mortality.
Giving, working and volunteering for charitable causes promotes feelings of well-being. When a business integrates giving into its mission, employees enjoy greater overall job satisfaction. Workplace morale improves, employees gain confidence and feel more loyal to a company that cares about more than the bottom line.
Of course, there are benefits on the business side as well. Sponsorship and networking opportunities increase during volunteer events and fund drives. The focus, however, should be on creating a culture of giving and not economic rewards.