As an organization, you should want to feel like more than just a building on a city block. Your company should be an integral, respected part of your city, your neighborhood, even your block, maintaining a two-way relationship with the locals that's about more than just providing jobs.
Last fall we talked about how telling their story and involving the community in a greater cause helped Toms attract customers who wanted to feel good about their purchases. If this wasn't enough of a motivator, a community focus can also help recruit top talent. Employees who are permitted to spend some of their workday volunteering tend to feel more engaged in and proud of their organization. Additionally, that time spent at the local elementary school can be a great way to network and even supplement your marketing outreach campaign, particularly if branded company t-shirts are on full display.
OPEN Forum provides some ways for you to get more involved with the world around you:
- Start local. Look around your area to find volunteer organizations that support local causes. Try a small non-profit, or a local branch of a larger organization.
- Do your research. Don't pick any random person or organization to give your time and money to. Take the time to research reliable organizations that don't use most of their donations to pay for overhead expenses.
- Pick something that matters to you. Find a cause that relates in some way to your business, your customers, or your employees. If you sell paper, consider making contributions to a fund to plant trees. If analysis of a market research survey indicates that many of your customers are young moms, donate money or time to a children's free clinic. If one of your employees suffers publicly from a chronic illness or disease, rally your staff to support them in a fundraising drive.
- Let employees pick something that matters to them. Give your people the option to choose which organization is important to them, and allow them to volunteer their time there or to contribute a percentage of their paycheck. Individuals are more likely to get involved if they feel like they have some control over things.
- Keep track. Always record time and money donations for tax purposes, as well as for marketing purposes. There are third parties that will do this for you, freeing up your time to focus on more important things.
- Team up. Encourage activities that require people to work in groups, such as an assembly line at the food bank, or a Relay for Life team. A little healthy competition among coworkers can also help drive participation.