Recent surveys have shown that employees value companies that take social responsibility seriously. One study found that four out of five millennials think that businesses should make a commitment to the greater good. Businesses are responding, with philanthropy growing at a rate of 64%, according to the Committee for Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy. And it’s not just employees — potential customers are willing to spend more to ensure that the businesses they support are socially and environmentally sustainable.
Many companies give back in some way. However, simple blank-check philanthropy doesn’t demonstrate that your company is invested in social responsibility. To engage employees and potential customers, you need to do more than hand over cash. Designing a coherent, long-term community investment plan is a smart way to ensure that your business does more than make profits.
Work With Local Nonprofits
Large national and international organizations, like the Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders, often receive the most money and attention. It’s organizations like these that have deep pockets for marketing and have made their names synonymous with charity. While these organizations do valuable work, sticking closer to home could be a better option.
Think about how your business can become more deeply tied to the surrounding community. What are the social and economic problems in your area that your company can help resolve? What are the issues your employees are passionate about tackling in their own backyards? Certainly local organizations could use the help and will welcome your support.
Start Your Own Program
Larger companies often start their own program focused on giving back. This demonstrates your company’s long-term commitment to social responsibility and charitable giving. Set aside time to allow employees to devote themselves to worthy causes.
You can use Kickstarter or another fund-raising program to gauge interest. For example, MySocialCloud gave employees a small allowance to spend on projects. Data company Umbel matches employee giving with a program called ZenPayroll. Be sure to gauge your employees’ interest about which causes they’re most passionate about.
Stay True to Your Mission
Carefully consider how you will spend your time and money. Many businesses work within their field of expertise to ensure that they’re donating in a valuable way. While volunteering at a soup kitchen is nice, you might want to pursue a more focused way to give back. For example, a tech company can work with local schools to hook them up with the latest technology or a successful start-up can work with local entrepreneurs.
Your business will benefit from donating your time, energy, and money to help your local community. You’ll improve employee morale, gain some good PR, and create connections. All it takes is some planning and employee buy-in to get started.