An essential part of a company’s business strategy is determining how it will give back to the community. Corporate philanthropy helps foster employee engagement, builds trust with consumers and generates value for the business.
But how do you choose the cause your business should support? It is not a decision to be taken lightly. Take the time to assess what causes make the most sense for your business through an informed discovery process.
Discover your “why,” and find something that complements it.
When you’re considering what organization to support in 2018 and beyond, evaluate the cause of your business first. Why do you do what you do? Who do you want to serve? Consider your company’s mission and vision when determining what cause to champion. You want to support a cause that aligns with your business goals — because if you don’t, customers and the general public may not find your efforts to be authentic.
Finally, ask your employees to be a part of the process. Listen to their ideas. Their buy-in is important in advancing support to whatever organization you choose, and it helps them feel their opinions are valued. You might even consider creating a committee, and charging those members to research and make recommendations.
Once you’ve determined the general direction of your charitable giving efforts, there are several online resources available to help you find organizations that fit your goals. You can start with a broad online search and visit websites of these organizations. There are also websites that specialize in helping you find the right cause — GreatNonprofits.org, Philanthropedia, Charity Navigator and GiveWell.org. These websites provide organizational history, ratings and other useful information, but shouldn’t be the only source for your decision.
Narrow your decision to the top two or three and then talk with someone at the organization to ask more detailed questions. If supporting local organizations is important to your business, reach out to several in your community and meet with them to determine how they might fit your plan.
Make your choice and create a service plan.
Again, involving your employees in making the final decision can go a long way to receiving their buy-in and getting them excited about your efforts. Once your team has selected a cause, determine how you will give in 2018. Do they offer an payroll deduction program, and will you participate? Do they need volunteers for specific events? Can you initiate your own event to raise money for the cause (for example, creating a Relay for Life team to support cancer research)? Consider allowing employees to receive paid time off to volunteer for your business cause, a growing trend. Also, encourage employees to engage in charitable efforts they personally support — joining local service organizations or logging service hours.
Charitable giving and commitment to service are leading factors in how customers perceive businesses and whether they trust them. Gallup research has found that given a choice, 94% of shoppers will choose the brand connected to a social cause. Additionally, volunteering and giving back builds morale with employees, fosters group unity and gives them a sense of purpose.
In the end, it’s just good business.