By Dusty Wunderlich
Every company, no matter what size or industry, should be involved in its community. Whether it’s a local community, an online community or even a trade-specific community, maintaining a presence outside the typical market space can provide your business with long-reaching benefits.
It’s difficult to track the monetary ROI of community involvement, but the advantages — both tangible and otherwise — are very real.
The perks of community engagement
Studies show the correlation between employee productivity and purpose-driven work. Just about everyone works for the money, but employees often work harder and search for better solutions when they have a reason beyond their bank accounts to go to the office each day. Millennials especially seek purpose beyond money in the workplace. And with this group surpassing Generation X as the largest generation in the workforce, businesses must make attracting the best millennial talent a top priority.
On a more practical note, business leaders who are involved in their communities have a much higher potential for networking. This is especially important in the political realm. If one business focuses solely on the bottom line and another is getting involved and meeting people, which one is more likely to have the backing of informed decision makers on issues that impact the business climate?
Industry-specific communities have their advantages as well. Creating a network of business leaders who share common goals can build relationships and open doors to new opportunities. A company’s ability to demonstrate a selfless vision outside its own business goals goes a long way toward building a better business outlook.
How to get involved
When it comes to giving, many companies (especially those in phases of major growth) get in trouble with large, unplanned donations — leading to massive expenses that lack the type of impact they want to have. Choosing the right initiatives is key, as is aligning community activism with a strong message.
When we select new community projects, we look primarily at three criteria:
1. Visibility and strategic alliance
For a young disruptive company like mine, Bristlecone Holdings, connecting with movers and shakers is a matter of survival.
Several Bristlecone Holdings employees serve on boards throughout their local communities, and our leaders are heavily engaged in local politics. We work closely with former leaders of our state to discuss future legislation and the impact it could have on our growing business community.
Joining these political conversations provides major rewards, both directly for our growth and indirectly as better legislation attracts more businesses like ours to the region.
2. Mission-driven compatibility
My team at Bristlecone looks for groups that share our mission and values. Right now, we work with an organization called Zawadisha, which provides small loans for big-impact items to rural Kenyan women to finance their livelihoods. Zawadisha’s work falls in line with our goals to help people in need gain access to better financing.
3. Proven impact
Any nonprofit worth its funding must be able to provide reporting and track results. I personally admire PNC’s recent initiative to improve literacy in its area. The data tracking for the plan is impressive, focusing more on the results than the dollars spent. By zeroing in on the right areas, the initiative can provide tangible benefits that really resonate with the community.
The most successful companies are visibly generous in money and manpower, but even those that don’t have money to give can succeed simply by offering their time. Figure out the expertise your company and workforce offer in an area you’re passionate about, then lend your talents to help.
If you do make monetary donations, don’t just show the public. Your employees only know what you tell them, so to maximize the effect of a purpose-driven workforce, communicate progress and involvement opportunities to your workers regularly.
Lending a hand within and outside the company’s scope can impact your business’s life in myriad ways. Make strategic community involvement part of your overall strategy, and start enjoying the wonderful benefits of giving back.
Image credit: Pixabay
Dusty Wunderlich is the founder and CEO of Bristlecone Holdings, a high-growth network of consumer and business-to-business finance platforms and financial technologies. Its mission is to democratize the world of finance for the better. Dusty is a current recipient of the Twenty under 40 Awards in Reno, Nevada, and is a member of the Young Entrepreneur Council.