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How companies can win with philanthropy

The modern workforce has new expectations for their employers


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Let's just clearly state what everyone already knows: Employers often lend lip service to "commitment to community," but only a select few routinely, and with commitment, act upon that credo. Successful companies know that their organization must move beyond providing empty words about their commitment to the community and instead, act.

When companies create opportunities for employees to give back to their community, it reinforces a commitment to focus on more than themselves and their bottom-lines. Moreover, the modern workforce has new expectations for their employers. They expect to find a company that encourages volunteering activities. Not having such activities can mean the difference between a candidate choosing to instead work for a competitor that does encourage social responsibility.

Affording employees time from their schedules to volunteer creates more engaged employees. The company that allows and encourages volunteering enjoys a better bottom line because engaged employees translate into increased employee retention. No one can argue the high cost of employee turnover. Embracing volunteering also helps to create a sense of pride and cohesion among staff.

And employees want to be included; they want to have a voice about what causes the company may pour its resources into. As a company, give your staff members the opportunity to weigh-in on events and philanthropic causes that matter to them.

Continue to gauge the interest level of employees all year. This can be achieved by creating and distributing community involvement surveys every year. This allows an employer to keep a finger on the pulse of staff to support causes for which employees express an interest.

Furthermore, volunteering works best (for a company and its staff) when the opportunity to do so is open to all levels within an organization. Allowing newer or lesser paid employees the opportunity to volunteer shows the company’s commitment to engaging staff. When middle management and leadership are involved in volunteer activities, it sends a message to the company that volunteering is supported at all levels.

When an employer becomes so focused on the bottom line that they do not allow employees time away from work to give back to worthy causes, it sends the message that the employer’s only priority is turning a profit. In addition, volunteering gives employees a chance to work on soft skills that they might not necessarily be exposed to in their current job position.

Having some structure around a volunteer program can ensure a better fit for your company. To obtain structure, some employers find that having a community committee is a good first step. It is through this community that goals and timelines are set. Perhaps there is a specific organization that a company wants to support each year in addition to adding new causes. Having a few key people dedicated to picking organizations to work with can ensure that events and activities are scheduled.

Simply giving money to a charity or philanthropic organization doesn’t necessarily carry the same impact as taking the time to work side-by-side with others. Donating time builds stronger teams and creates a sense of empathy among employees; these are cohesive and company-strengthening elements that simply cannot be taught.

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