By Ari Rabban
It’s time for that frantic, end-of-year sprint — again. Business is hopping, employees are more frazzled and customers are harried.
So why would you add another “to do” to the already overflowing task list? Because a simple addition to your plans by "giving back" can enhance worker loyalty, build brand awareness, and support your community throughout the holidays and beyond. Best of all, it’s easy to initiate.
The Long Reach of a Good Deed
Funneling goodwill to nonprofits, families and individuals around the holidays has always been commendable, which is why companies do it every year to the tune of nearly $5 billion. Still, most organizations don’t proactively connect seasonal giving to their overall missions. They simply write a check or encourage employees to make donations and then repeat the cycle next year, which only scratches the surface of the possible impact they can make.
Instead, organizations that springboard their seasonal giving into the other 10 months of the year can ingratiate themselves to their communities and better attract emerging talent. In fact, more than half of Millennial job seekers take charitable giving into consideration before signing on with a company. As well, team members working for organizations that support causes witness augmented productivity, heightened customer service, and reduced turnover, all of which indicates that giving back is much more than a holiday toy drive.
For instance, with the help and backing of their company, team members can pool their resources — and perhaps get matching funds — to do anything from “adopting” a charity to presenting monies to a local nonprofit. Not only will this enable them to work as a team outside of the office and beyond tech tools like Slack, but it can also render tangible, charitable results in a shorter time. Similarly, encouraging teams to volunteer for the American Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, or other projects gives individuals a chance to invest in “sweat equity” and naturally fosters camaraderie. Colleagues can bond in a low-stress environment.
4 Ways to Give Back All Year
Because giving back has so many upsides that aren't holiday-specific, businesses should continue the kindness and employee growth by implementing a visible culture of community engagement and support. Here are four steps they can take to do so:
1. Sponsor worthy local organizations. Every community has organizations that could use your help. Seek them out, rotating among the ones that align most with your brand. For instance, if your company is sports or athletics-oriented, sponsor a youth baseball league or a seasonal United Way capital campaign push.
Donating money — or employee time – toward a nonprofit's efforts makes both entities more visible in the community. Plus, the organizations you support will add your company to their marketing materials. You can add theirs, too, so be sure to snap shots of your team members volunteering to post on social media. Over time, your company name will become linked to the charity’s, fostering recognition and promotion.
2. Attend startup events. All businesses need support in their early days, so contribute resources to startups, be they established or in the conception phase. Taking your team to events that support new businesses allows you to network with young leaders, learn new skills or new ways of doing business, and contribute to those organizations or individuals you meet. You could also discover a future employee.
While at these events, don’t worry about getting instant sales or scoping out public relations opportunities. Simply immerse yourself in the enriching experience and focus on building personal relationships. Doing so can serve as a strong model of leadership for your teams.
3. Give a portion of your corporate proceeds to charity. Some companies already design their business models to support a specific nonprofit. In this way, customers know that their purchases go toward a good cause, which is especially important when 85 percent of buyers want to actively support companies that give back.
Still, "giving back" doesn't mean giving away everything. Small amounts add up, and you can even include a “ticker” on your website to illustrate to your customers how much they've helped you donate.
4. Create a “random acts of kindness” culture. You’re not a part-time leader, so neither should your company be a part-time do-gooder. As a leader, I use my position to promote random acts of kindness weekly, if not daily.
Sending your newest sales talent a note telling them what a great job they did closing a difficult prospect or dropping a congratulations card in the mail to your marketing department head’s spouse when you hear they snagged a big promotion go a long way in promoting employee engagement and retention. People love to work at businesses that support them.
Incorporating "giving back" into your corporate ethos by supporting local organizations and events, donating to charities, and creating a culture of inclusion and appreciation foregrounds social good and strengthens your business. And ultimately, it just makes sense — so celebrate the season of giving, and then, even after the snow thaws, keep on giving.
Ari Rabban is the CEO of Phone.com and a veteran of the IP communications industry. Phone.com’s virtual phone service builds on the digital VoIP industry experience of its founders to deliver a complete suite of enterprise-grade unified communication services at an SMB price. Ari was named among the Top 20 Most Influential People in VoIP 2012 and currently serves on several boards, including the New Jersey Tech Council. You can follow him on Twitter @arabban.