Most people spend more time at work than they do at home or with their own families. This time spent interacting with others can become soulless if we are motivated only by the money we make. As business leaders, we have the opportunity to change the lives of others, not only by offering job opportunities and great working conditions, we can strive to make a difference to the greater community. Reaching out through company philanthropic ventures not only serves to make your business more integrated with the community, but it also offers your employees something more, something to contribute to and feel proud of.
However, there are things to consider before committing your business to help the community. Your corporate responsibility should be guided by your company values. A good place to start in defining what those values are is to read and dissect your company philosophy. If you don’t have one, you need one so that everyone who works for you knows where they stand. It doesn’t need to be long or complex, just honest and focused. It could be:
- In this company, we value each team member as part of an extended family. We value communication, honesty and supportive interactions.
- A simple statement like this can form the basis for your values and deciding what philanthropic venture supports this philosophy.
There are some simple steps that you can follow to help define your goals and manage expectations.
- Work Together
Your company does not need to create a campaign, you can choose to support existing charities or organisations or events. While it is ambitious to invest in your own campaign, smaller businesses can have the same big impact by working with others.
Look into the things that your team might be able to contribute to in your area, such as rubbish pick up days or fun runs. You can make them company events that include the families of your employees and that don’t ask people to give money, but time, if that is of concern to your employees.
- Lead with Conviction
If you are going to implement a program or join one, you need to be the person who shows up; every single time. If you are asking your company to give, you need to lead by example. If you want people to donate clothing, you need to do so first and ‘rally the troops’ by encouraging people to remember to make donations by a deadline.
It is a delicate balance between encouraging and badgering, but as an experienced leader with the respect of your colleagues, this isn’t any trouble for you.
- Talent. Time. Treasure.
It’s pretty simple to decide what your business should commit to if you know your company well.
If your company is brimming with animal lovers, giving them the time to commit to working with an animal shelter could be the answer to your philanthropic desires. Perhaps your team are just food lovers who want to feed everyone; meals on wheels or baking for charity sales could be the direction that keeps them inspired.
Of course, the other asset you might have is a product. Your treasure which you can donate. TOMS gives away a pair of shoes for every pair purchased. Many opticians will donate your old frames when you buy new ones. If you think your business has the means to make donations of money or goods, it is a great way to share what you have.
- Team Vision
All of this is nothing if you don’t know what your goals are. More than ‘help others’, you need to write down your corporate responsibility commitment in a clear statement that can be accessed by your team and your customers.
This statement will help you stay focused. While you might want to help with every request that comes to your business, you need to stay focused to avoid exhausting your resources and your team.
If your focus is environmentalism, choose which area. Is it recycling and rubbish collection, or is it building habitats for bees? Defining your goals will mean that you make a real difference.
Overall, making a commitment to corporate responsibility means making a commitment to your team and your community. When your team know who they are working for and what larger vision the company has, they will feel more motivated and connected. You have the opportunity to retain more staff and make a difference in their lives and those of the broader community.