By Zeynep Ilgaz
It should go without saying that giving back is a good thing. Every member of society benefits from the health of the community, and as members of a corporation, we should always be conscious of the power we have to bring about good in the world. Giving to the less fortunate is an admirable act.
However, like a lot of good deeds, corporate philanthropy doesn’t just benefit the recipients. It also benefits those who are giving. Make corporate giving a foundation of your business, and you’ll find that it can improve the morale of your employees and the health of your company.
The benefits of a giving lifestyle
We’ve already discussed the most obvious benefit: helping out those who need it most. However, there are other factors to consider when it comes to corporate giving:
- Your employees: Keeping your employees engaged in their work and passionate about what they do can sometimes be a challenge. Give employees a chance to be involved with charity work, and they will feel proud of their company and of themselves. This, in turn, can reinvigorate an employee in other areas of his or her work.
- Your brand: While your reputation is not the reason you give, it does matter to your audience. They want to do business with a company that cares about the broader community. A 2013 study by Cone Communications and Echo Global found that 91 percent of global consumers were likely to switch to a brand that supported a good cause, given similar price and quality. If you align your business goals with support for a cause, your customers will realize that you and your staff are about more than just selling.
How to incorporate it into your business
While the benefits of corporate giving may be clear, it might not be easy to see where it fits into the day-to-day duties of work life. But with a few simple guidelines, you should find it easy to fit charity into your business model and into the lives of your employees.
- Schedule a specific day and time when community-related items can be discussed. This way, it’s clearly defined as an integral part of your business, and it has the opportunity to become routine.
- When scheduling events, do so well in advance of the date, trying for off-hours or days when the workload is lighter than normal. Employees want to be involved, but they also don’t want to feel as if they’re sacrificing productive hours to do so. Carving out blocks of time dedicated to philanthropy means employees don’t have to feel conflicted about participating.
- Involve your staff directly. Getting your employees involved is crucial to boosting morale. There are a number of ways to do this. At our company, we divide employees into teams and let them choose an organization they think would be a worthy recipient. This gets employees involved on the ground floor and helps ensure that they care about the cause.
Put the money in the right place
There’s one more challenge facing companies when it comes to doing philanthropy right: choosing the right charities. Here are a few things to keep in mind when deciding on the right cause for your business:
- Keep it in line with your core values. Try to relate your charity work to what your business does. For instance, our company provides drug testing products and services; therefore, we focus our giving on causes that promote a drug-free lifestyle. Not only does this make it more likely for our employees to care about our cause, but it also helps our brand image in our target area.
- Talk to your team. It’s possible that you have employees with personal stories about how they were affected by misfortune. Give to causes that your employees have a personal connection with. They will be more passionate about helping others and will be proud to work for a company that cares about the same things they do.
- Think local. Improve your local community, and you’ll improve the lives of your employees. It also helps to bolster your image with the people who surround you.
- Support schools. It’s always good to look toward the future, and the people in school now are the innovators and business leaders of tomorrow. Supporting schools is supporting the future.
- Get the family involved. Group activities, like food drives, can be good ways to get employees’ families involved in charity work. This can increase the personal bond employees have with their work, and it enables everyone to get to know each other better.
Charity is always a good idea, but when it comes to corporate giving, it can also provide a way to improve your company’s bottom line. As long as you keep your employees engaged and pick the right causes, you can help your business and your community in one fell swoop.
Originally from Turkey, Zeynep Ilgaz and her husband immigrated to the United States with nothing but two suitcases, a love for each other, and a desire for entrepreneurship. They co-founded Confirm BioSciences, where Ilgaz serves as president. As the global leader in the field of lab and instant testing for drugs of abuse and health, Confirm BioSciences is committed to being on the cutting edge of offering new, service-oriented drug testing technologies. Find Zeynep on Google+.