At first glance, corporations and community organizations may seem to exist in separate worlds. But in reality, corporations are integral to the work of nonprofits and other community organizations across the country.
Consider the impact of small businesses alone. One survey found that 81% of small businesses give back to their communities, and 75% of small business owners donate an average of 6% of their profits to charitable organizations each year. Meanwhile, in 2018, corporate philanthropy amounted to a whopping $20.05 billion, according to the National Philanthropic Trust. Corporations are the fourth largest source of charitable giving after individuals, foundations, and bequests.
Beyond financial contributions, corporations support their communities by sponsoring events, donating products, offering pro bono services, and spearheading other initiatives. Corporations and community causes are inextricably linked. You could even say businesses and nonprofits need each other—because giving back benefits your community, and it’s also good for business.
If your company hasn’t hopped on the giving train, why not get started? Read on for an overview of how giving back can benefit your organization and community. Then discover seven proven ideas for philanthropic initiatives that will make a meaningful difference in your region.
The Benefits of Giving Back
When your corporate team gives back to your local community, everyone benefits. Your team’s donations and volunteer efforts can help uplift vital initiatives throughout your region to educate, feed, house, or provide health care or other opportunities to people in need.
Beyond being the right thing to do, giving back can benefit your company in key ways.
Build positive relationships
Which would you rather be: the company known for disenfranchising locals or the one that stands by its neighbors? You probably answered the latter—and giving back to your community is a great way to show your community you care. When you build positive relationships with your neighbors, you’ll develop a stellar reputation for corporate social responsibility and enjoy local referrals.
Today’s workforce is committed to working for ethical companies. By spearheading charitable initiatives, you may help attract top talent to your workplace.
For the same reason charitable activities help attract top talent, they can help you keep your best employees. People want to do good in the world and work for companies with values beyond their bottom lines. When you give back to your community, you make your company a better place to work. Research suggests corporate-sponsored volunteering enhances morale, strengthens coworker relationships, grows team members’ leadership skills, and boosts employee wellbeing.
Appeal to customers
Employees aren’t the only ones who prefer to associate with brands that give back. The same is true for customers. One study found that 85 percent of consumers view a company more favorably if it supports causes they care about. This means they may be more likely to do business with your company over the long-term.
Establish good public relations
When you partner with nonprofits and other community organizations, both of you can market your efforts. And you may attract media coverage and generate positive buzz for your corporation.
Take advantage of tax deductions
While the newest tax regulations aren’t as favorable to certain charitable contributions as regulations in years past, your company may still enjoy an added perk in the form of tax relief.
The bottom line? Good reasons abound to give back to your local community (and there’s pretty much no reason not to!).
How Your Team Can Give Back to Your Community
If you’d like your company to give back but you’re not sure how to begin, we’ve got you covered. Pick any of these ideas as a starting point, and then let your initiatives evolve based on your team’s skills and interests and your community’s needs.
Host community meetings
If your company has a home office, your space may be useful to local nonprofits and community initiatives. Charities may not be able to afford office space to hold meetings in a comfortable, confidential setting. Fill the void by offering your workspace during off-hours. It won’t cost you anything (except maybe a little electricity), and it can help local organizations do their good work.
Your team members have skills and tools. Why not donate your services to your community? Here are a few examples.
- If you run a construction company, volunteer with Habitat for Humanity to help build homes.
- If you run a marketing agency, offer pro bono marketing services to local nonprofits.
- If you sell software, teach STEM workshops in local schools.
Develop a mentorship program
Your team has insights that may be valuable to students or people who aspire to careers in related fields. Offer your expertise to your local community by starting a mentorship program. You may want to structure your program in several ways. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
- Pair up team members to mentor students or community members one on one.
- Host regular open houses where students and community members can visit your workspace and ask questions of your team.
- Hold workshops to help people hone particular skills.
Create a scholarship
Launch an annual scholarship to help a local student attend college or university. Make the scholarship general or specific to your industry. For example, if your organization is arts-based, consider offering the scholarship to students who want to pursue a career in the arts.
Sponsor a local charity event
Schools and charities routinely host events such as walk-a-thons and golf outings to raise funds. Reach out to a charity aligned with your brand to offer your support for one of their events. Depending on the organization’s needs, you could help collect donations, host a fundraiser for the event, market the event, donate items for prizes or auctions, or contribute volunteers to help out on the big day.
Support employees’ volunteerism
Bake philanthropy into your company’s culture by giving employees paid time off to volunteer in the community. Specify a particular amount of time each employee can volunteer each month, quarter, or year. Or sponsor employee volunteer days where your team works on a project together. (For instance, you could build a house for Habitat for Humanity or clean up a local playground.) These kinds of programs enhance morale and benefit your local community.
To further incentivize your team’s charitable activity, hand out an annual donation stipend for each employee to donate to a favorite organization. You may want to attach the gift to a certain accomplishment. For example, if your sales team reaches its goal for a quarter, you could give an additional bonus in the form of a charitable donation of the team’s choosing.
Get active with your local Chamber of Commerce
Join your local Chamber of Commerce to build relationships with other local businesses and team up in service to your community. For example, you may want to co-sponsor a local charity event. You can also build a referral network to help you support other local businesses, which is another way to invest in your region.
Ready, Set, Give
Whether you decide to create a community mentorship program, donate your services, sponsor local charity events, launch a scholarship, provide meeting space for community organizations, offer paid employee volunteer days, or network with other local businesses, your company will support your neighbors and help locals in need. In the process, you’ll build a stronger team and community. And that’s good news for everyone.