Most companies want to contribute to their communities, but the idea of aligning your business with the right charity can be challenging.
Giving back is not only an investment in your community; it’s an important business strategy as well.
General or Strategic Giving?
When you are looking for the right charity with which to align your company name, there are many factors to consider. Start deciding whether or not your philanthropic endeavors should be general or strategic.
General corporate philanthropy is commonly aligned with the issues facing your community and the interests of your employees. An example is aligning with a children’s hospital if many of your employees have young children. Start with surveying your employees about where they invest their time and money when giving back. Partnering with those organizations helps employees feel good about themselves and proud about where they work, which in turn builds loyalty.
Strategic corporate philanthropy often aligns with your type of business. Through the nature of your business, you can impact real change in many ways. For instance, a mortgage lender may choose to focus on housing or homelessness needs in the community. When businesses help others within their communities, the community reciprocates by offering their support as well.
In addition, participating in community-based events allows your employees the opportunity to meet members of local organizations and potential new customers. Your brand will build a strong reputation for giving back which allows your company to stand out amongst the competition.
Once you’ve decided whether to lean toward general or strategic giving, there is the hard choice of deciding what charitable cause is the right fit for your company. The best fit is going to be a charity that shares your views and values. This will make the relationship meaningful for both of you.
Take some time to evaluate your corporate values and where you think they could make the most impact in your community. There will likely be many charities to choose from so making a checklist of your values to discuss with them can be helpful.
Be sure to ask questions of the charity and understand if their values align with yours. Consider that this choice is just as important as choosing a vendor or business partner. Learn more about their reputation in the community with the understanding that alignment with them could impact your business reputation as well.
It’s essential to make a strong effort to communicate your corporate philanthropic efforts and publish information about participation and giving. Your employees and your customers in the community will not only appreciate the work you are doing, but you will build a foundation of loyalty and pride.
Companies that find a way to use their charitable efforts to connect employees to their work, ultimately drive a more engaged workforce. And, many of today’s consumers prefer to engage with companies that support a good cause. This means that communication, both internal and external, is essential to your company brand.
So, while deciding the right charity to align your business with is not always easy, it is a winning proposition for all involved. Invest the time upfront on your strategy and find a group that is a good fit for your values. Then make sure you communicate through multiple channels. Helping others in need is reason enough for companies to take on various philanthropic efforts, but if that’s not enough motivation, then hopefully a positive return on investment will be.