The way we do business is changing. More than ever, people (especially millennials) believe in the responsibility of businesses to be actively contributing to their communities. And remarkably, many businesses are doing just that in a BIG WAY. The business of giving back goes far beyond signing a cheque and calling it a day. Companies are building creative, sustainable and impactful programming for making a difference. When companies give back to their communities, a beautiful thing happens. They not only become a partner in the community, but a mutually beneficial relationship is formed.
Social and community investment create opportunities for people where they didn’t before exist. And the reach of investment is wide and flexible. However, what is perhaps less obvious in this equation is the benefit created for the businesses who invest in their communities.
A company’s role in the community is not only economic, but they are also influencers, employers, and inhabitants there as well. Many companies who understand this are already active participants in their communities and are enjoying the benefits created by giving back. As reported by Imagine Canada, 72% of large corporations contributing to their communities felt that it was very important to do so for their relationship and reputation within the community.
Impact Inside & Out
Businesses observe many benefits beyond an elevated reputation when implementing a well-developed corporate community involvement (CCI) strategies. Reported in a paper collected from The Center for Corporate Citizenship at Boston College, research found that “corporate social performance ha[d] a positive influence on employee attraction and retention, skill development, and attitudes” (Christoffer & Rochlin, 2000, p.23). Company culture sees improvements because employee morale and satisfaction are positively affected when people are engaged in workplace programming that gives back. Companies utilizing their staff in the development and execution of community investment strategies experience less absenteeism, better retention, and higher engagement.
A great community investment strategy that is communicated effectively also creates brand awareness. Customers seek out companies that are values-based and not afraid to show it. And with sustainable strategies providing ongoing impact, customers are loyal to companies who are truly out to make a difference. In the same paper published by Christoffer & Rochlin (2000), the authors observed that corporate social performance provided differentiation and competitive advantage to the companies with community involvement strategies.
Many companies are now stepping up and becoming active members of their communities. Writing a cheque for a cause is no longer the standard in corporate giving. Businesses are becoming creative with their impact strategies and using whatever resources they have available to them. Volunteerism, Matching Gifts and Pro Bono services are just a few of the ways they are giving back, which can be seen in an analysis conducted by CECP on corporate giving and employee engagement.
Across the world, value-based companies are giving back using unique and sustainable programming. There is no contesting the social impact that has been made by corporate efforts, but what is really turning heads and getting companies excited is that giving back is not only good for our communities, it is good business as well.
Alex Welsh is a Strategist at Purpose Collective working from Calgary, Alberta.
CECP, in association with The Conference Board. Giving in Numbers: 2014 Edition
Rochlin, S. A., & Christoffer, B. (2000). Making the business case. Boston, MA: The Center for Corporate Citizenship at Boston College.