Despite the fact that corporate charity benefits businesses in a variety of ways, from improving morale to expanding professional networks, there remains a number of misconceptions about giving as a business. For example, business owners often think that giving should only occur when profits reach a certain level, but there are other ways of helping the community that go beyond donating money.
Furthermore, many business owners do not realize that giving blindly can prove ineffective, wasting both time and resources. Corporate philanthropy requires a certain amount of strategy and planning to make an impact and produce noticeable benefits for the company. Some tips to keep in mind when it comes to giving effectively as a corporation include the following:
Secure buy-in from employees.
Companies should donate their time and resources to causes that their employees feel connected to, which means that leaders need to ask individual employees their opinion on giving. When people believe in a cause, they will be more excited to contribute to it. Moreover, the resulting camaraderie that grows can produce more effective teams, thus improving outcomes in other work areas. Before engaging in philanthropy, business leaders may want to take a poll or hold a meeting in which employees can bring their ideas before the whole company. Not only will involvement in the decision make employees feel proud, but it will make them more invested in the company overall.
Align resources with philanthropy.
Traditionally, people think of philanthropy as writing checks to nonprofit organizations that make an impact in the community. However, this is a narrow view of philanthropy—ways of providing support extend far beyond money. Some businesses may want to engage in giving, but philanthropy often becomes more impactful when leaders take account of the other resources they have to offer and figure out how these could benefit a nonprofit.
For example, if a company has a particularly strong marketing department, it could donate the skills of its employees to a new nonprofit and help them devise a marketing strategy at no cost. Perhaps a company involved in food production could donate leftover perishable items to an area food pantry or an accounting firm could offer to help nonprofits devise better bookkeeping practices. There are many ways to be charitable without affecting the bottom line.
Communicate the results of giving.
Too often, companies make a major impact that goes completely unnoticed by the community and its employees. While it may sound boastful, companies should take the time to account for the difference they have made and relay this information to the outside world. Also, letting employees know that their hard work has made a difference in the community boosts their pride and appreciation and inspires them to continue giving—and perhaps think of other ways to contribute. It’s been noted that individuals become more charitable when they see how much of an impact their actions have already had.
Furthermore, the community should be made aware of the impact of the company, as publishing this information could attract both new customers and employees. This is especially true of millennial job seekers, given how they value community engagement.
Empower employees to make an impact.
Aside from donating services and money, companies can contribute to their community by donating their time. They may start out by organizing a community volunteer day for their employees, whether that is during the week or on the weekend. Promoting volunteer time among employees helps to build connections that ultimately make the company run more efficiently, and allowing individuals to volunteer during work hours demonstrates the company’s commitment to making a difference. Leaders may want to identify one or several opportunities for their employees—or better yet, ask for suggestions. Some companies even allow their employees to take paid time off on occasion to volunteer for an important cause. Sharing the accomplishments of these individuals with the company encourages others to follow suit, which in turn builds a culture centered on giving.
Build partnerships with the community.
Philanthropy does not exist in a vacuum. Businesses can have the greatest impact when they partner with other organizations in the community to coordinate giving. Sometimes, this partnership exists so that employees from both businesses can work together to maximize impact. This strategy can also improve ties between companies, resulting in collaborative projects in the future. However, a company may choose to partner directly with an area nonprofit. This kind of partnership can help guide giving to make sure that it continues to align with the needs of the nonprofit. Overall, collaborations between businesses and nonprofits can produce innovative solutions to many complicated issues.