Workplace Philanthropy: What It Takes To Make Doing Good A Good Thing

While philanthropy is personal and varies from company to company, there are best places to start if you want to engage in charity for the right reasons.
While philanthropy is personal and varies from company to company, there are best places to start if you want to engage in charity for the right reasons.

Giving back might be the key to distinguishing your company from your competitors — it can even encourage greater customer loyalty and drive higher sales. In fact, Edelman found that 51% of consumers are loyal to brands that support social causes, while 70% would pay more to a socially responsible company.

This is not to say that you will not run into skeptics. Goodwill initiatives can often be seen as nothing more than marketing gimmicks or a way for brands to try to earn favorable publicity. It is for this reason that you must go beyond a token contribution and encourage companywide community involvement.

It is important to encourage everyone at your company to become involved with charitable works that matter to them. At ours, we naturally focus on causes that are closely aligned with our mission and our faith. We actively support charity programs for underprivileged children, provide relief funds for those affected by natural disasters, contribute to scholarship funds and donate to educational institutions.

Of course, not all charitable organizations are created equal, and you do need to be aware of who and what you are supporting. Controversial organizations can alienate certain customers. Be mindful that you are working to do good in a good way.

Charity Done Right. While philanthropy is personal and varies from company to company, there are a few best places to start if you are interested in engaging in charity for all of the right reasons:

1. Encourage charitable activities. Workplace philanthropy should be much more than just writing a check to a charity. You really want it to become part of the fabric of your company. As such, encourage employees to give back to their community by establishing a formal philanthropy program. This program could require a certain number of hours per month for charitable activities or a quarterly outing during which the entire team can volunteer its time to a cause.

2. Make philanthropy collaborative. Many companies believe that staff will freely give their time or money when given the opportunity, but this is not always the case — sometimes, people need convincing. One potential motivator is to give to charities that are the most important to them. Survey your team to determine where its charitable interests lie, and then pilot a program or two to see whether participation increases.

3. Communicate regularly. People want to know that their contributions of time or money are making a difference. Make a point of keeping employees informed of the progress made within the organizations your company supports. It is also important to share upcoming dates of charitable events or charitable needs to keep workplace philanthropy top of mind and ensure employee involvement.

4. Celebrate participation. While the hope is that employees will “do good” for purely altruistic reasons, that does not take away from the fact that people should be celebrated for their charitable activities. Nonprofits often host donor appreciation events, so why not do something similar for your staff? Reward team members who participate in workplace philanthropy programs. Honor the most outstanding contributions in the company. Or host a donor luncheon for participants.

Making philanthropy part of your company takes time, especially when you’re doing it for reasons beyond just token contribution for the sake of appearances. If you include staff in the decisions, support their participation and celebrate their successes, you will be off to a good start in doing good.

Read more: Bernie Marcus’ Model: Community Progress Without Progressive Fingerpointing

David Disiere is the founder and CEO of QEO Insurance Group, an agency that provides commercial transportation insurance to clients throughout the U.S. He is a highly successful entrepreneur who has launched business endeavors in the real estate, oil and gas, agriculture and automotive sectors.