By Burt Cummings
Seventy-nine percent of today’s graduates consider a company’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) commitments when deciding where to work, according to a recent Cone Communications study.
Once they arrive on the job, they want to be involved in doing good from the start. The CECP 2016 Giving in Numbers study states, “Employee volunteer participation rate with their company’s community efforts continued to rise to 33 percent in 2015 from 28 percent in 2013.”
Businesses know that investing in good is crucial to attract and retain top talent, and most business leaders expect this trend to increase. Brands of all shapes and sizes are embedding CSR into their operations, aligning business with purpose.
Mark Shamley, CEO of the Association of Corporate Contributions Professionals (ACCP), highlighted the growing role of CSR as an integral part of business: “I expect that CSR will become even more entrenched throughout companies. Rather than having CSR sit off to the side, more and more companies are weaving CSR into their operations.”
There’s a difference between paying lip service to corporate citizenship and really walking the walk — and employees catch on quickly when efforts aren’t authentic or geared to their needs. How can you embed CSR in ways that are empowering and personalized to your employees? Here are some examples we found working with corporate philanthropy programs of all shapes and sizes:
Volunteer on the clock
If you give employees the opportunity to volunteer during work hours, you show that you respect their time and are willing to invest in doing good in the communities your company serves.
Quicken Loans gives all of their team members eight hours of paid volunteer time each year which they can use to explore nonprofits in their cities and find ways to make a difference in the community. This commitment to CSR pays dividends for Quicken, where over half of the lender’s employees are millennials. Fortune named Quicken on its list of 100 best places to work for millennials and 98 percent of young employees say “I feel good about the ways we contribute to the community.”
Pick your cause
People want the ability to make a difference in the causes closest to their hearts. Having a single company wide cause does not meet the needs and preferences of all employees. Giving employees the opportunity to choose makes all the difference.
JetBlue decided to honor their crewmembers’ commitment to giving back by launching Community Connection – a crewmember volunteer program designed to align corporate giving with individual crewmember passions. To date, JetBlue crewmembers have volunteered over 400,000 hours of service, resulting in more than $1.5 million of in-kind donations impacting their local communities.
Consider your skill-set
Nielsen’s Wendy Salomon, VP of reputation and public affairs, sees an increase in companies moving from old-school philanthropy to “skillanthropy” or skills-based contributions. Examples include a consumer packaged goods company addressing access to healthy food, a bank educating vulnerable populations on financial literacy, or a shipping company getting supplies to storm-battled regions.
“There is a particular “stickiness” when skill-based programs are part of a CSR portfolio, as they allow the company to shine a light on the good it does in the world and the expertise it brings to the marketplace day in and day out,” Salomon said.
PositiveNRG, NRG Energy’s philanthropy program, shows the benefits of skills-based philanthropy. In their work with FIRST (for inspiration and recognition of science and technology), a robotics and STEM education program. NRG employees use their real-world expertise to mentor FIRSTteams. This multi-faceted approach to giving-back brings everyone together as valuable contributors and allows NRG to make more significant advances for those they serve.
If you’re not sure how your program stacks up, ask! Survey employees to get feedback on what they like and don’t like about the way your programs are run now. Find out what you can do to get them more engaged. Be prepared to adapt as you go because even with the best plan in place your programs will continually evolve, just as the needs of your business and community change. When you really meet the needs of your employees and the community at large, you’ll reap significant benefits.
Image credit: Pixabay
Burt Cummings is the CEO of Versaic. Versaic’s program management system is behind many of the best-known corporate philanthropy programs from some of the biggest brands around. For a free demo contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website here.