Successful partnerships between businesses and nonprofits are the key to building successful communities. It takes all of us — large companies, small businesses, individuals and altruistic nonprofit organizations — to help our most underserved and vulnerable populations overcome the challenges that have been set before them and to build thriving, engaged communities where we all want to live, play and work.
We know that employees increasingly want to work for employers that care. We know that the benefits of giving back are abundant and that those benefits stretch from within the four walls of our offices, and now our homes, all the way out to the farthest reaches of our city, our state and the world in which we live.
As business members of the community, we have a responsibility to help those that are less fortunate and to contribute to the greater good. Most large companies have community giving programs in place — in some cases with entire teams dedicated to the effort. But for smaller and mid-sized businesses, determining the best way forward when it comes to giving back can be overwhelming and intimidating.
But it doesn’t have to be.
Narrow your focus
Deciding to give back to the community is an easy first step, but deciding where, when and how to give can be daunting. Businesses can’t give to every nonprofit that needs assistance or even every organization that picks up the phone and calls to ask for support. In fact, most businesses can’t even give to every nonprofit their employees love and lobby on behalf of.
It’s important to determine a giving strategy. Studies have shown that workers want to feel like they are contributing to more than just a company’s bottom line. So, uncovering what is meaningful to them, whether via casual conversations or even a more detailed survey, is an effective way to engage them in the process and start to prioritize.
Start by developing your own pillars of giving. Determine what’s important to you, your employees and the culture of your organization, and build your giving strategy around those causes.
Give in ways that work for you
When we think of corporate giving, the first thing most people think of is donating money. While this is a necessary part of helping nonprofits thrive, there are many other ways to give back. Volunteering time for a specific cause is equally valuable. It provides a meaningful way for your employees to put their abilities to use and gives them a chance to grow and tangibly enhance their professional skills.
Serving on nonprofit boards or committees is another important way to contribute. This valuable donation of time helps develop vital leadership skills, and also fosters an “external” focus, enabling employees to concentrate on more than just their job, but rather on the diverse issues and challenges in our communities. There are countless ways to get your employees involved in donating their time and skills — and often, the more creative you can get, the better.
Reap all of the benefits
The business case for establishing a more purposeful, employee-driven giving program is a strong one. For starters, creating an inspiring work environment can translate to enhanced employee productivity. It can help to attract and retain cause-minded individuals searching to work somewhere they can make a real impact. It can also help build morale, develop community leaders, increase your company’s social footprint and even increase profits.
But above all of that, the most significant benefits of giving back are intrinsic. It feels good. It brings people together. And at the end of the day, it helps build stronger, better communities in which we can live our lives and raise our families.
So, if you’ve been wondering whether to give back, the answer is yes. And, if you’ve been wondering how to begin the process, just start – it’s ok to start small because every little bit counts.
Steve Storey is Idaho Market President and Key Private Bank Leader for KeyBank. He can be reached at 208-364-8511 or email@example.com.
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