It’s not complicated, giving back to community gets results

Trends show that customers look beyond price and consider how companies are impacting the world

For most businesses, “doing well by doing good” touches two areas of operation – what your company does to society and what your company can do for society. The first is a responsibility to operate ethically and morally, while the second is an opportunity to make a difference beyond your daily operations.

Because you’re the expert when it comes to internal matters, the latter of these two areas is where I tend to focus my attention. It’s also rewarding because helping companies do something positive for society often leads to them achieving something positive for their business.

This is because trends show that customers are looking beyond price, place or product and are considering how companies are impacting the world. According to the Project ROI report on corporate social responsibility, 20 percent of consumers who are motivated by social impact are also actively promoting the products and brands they support to others. Thus, companies can establish deeper relationships with their customers when taking their community into consideration.

Additionally, job seekers want to work for businesses they respect, and the reasons for doing so are largely the same. If employees feel that their company is benefiting the community and that they’re engaged in the effort, it goes a long way. The same Project ROI report shows that, as a result, these companies see at least a 25 percent reduction in turnover and increases in employee productivity of up to 13 percent.

What this tells us is an organization’s reputation is just as important as its goods or services. So, investing in efforts to improve your business’ corner of the world is now more important than ever. This is why we are seeing more companies of all sizes leaning into these practices.

Locally, we’ve see companies like Davidson & Associates Insurance, Banfield Pet Hospital, First Pacific Financial and many others adopt charitable efforts that fit their company’s culture and address business goals. We’ve also worked in partnership with companies such as WRK Engineers and Columbia Vista to enhance charitable programs. While these conversations can be technical, it’s not always necessary. A simple, three-step formula we sometimes use when establishing a corporate giving program is a great tool for businesses that are getting started.

Tie it to your mission: The first step is often the most comfortable for business owners because it starts with a foundational element of every company: the mission, vision and values. The trick is translating those business aspirations into social inputs. In essence, you’re trying to answer the question, “How can supporting community efforts advance our corporate mission?” If you’re in the tech industry, that might mean expanding STEM education or internet access in underserved communities. The answer is different for every business. Thankfully, there are local nonprofits serving almost every need a company might want address.

Identify your resources: It’s usually best if your organization assesses how it can best provide support before approaching a nonprofit organization. The fact is that you know what assets are available. This can also be an exercise in creativity because some of the most vital support businesses can offer is not financial. Maybe you could provide in-kind services, administrative support, technical training or human resources? The list goes on, but be sure to get buy-in on decisions that require employee involvement. Once you know what you’re willing to provide, you can more clearly define a partnership.

Pursue good partners: There are literally thousands of charitable organizations in Clark County alone, and your goal is to find the right fit. There are a number of ways you can go about researching organizations. There are online databases like Guidestar.org, or you can tap the local expertise of the Community Foundation for Southwest Washington. Our team works closely with area nonprofits and understands the distinct needs that they are tackling throughout our region. This localized focus is important for local businesses and their employees, because the most rewarding service experience you can have usually happens in your own backyard.

In fact, one locally based opportunity that could serve as a great first step into your corporate philanthropy efforts is happening next week on Sept. 21. Give More 24! offers a number of ways for businesses to get involved with local nonprofits such as co-branded events, sponsored matching gifts and cash-back days. You can see them all online at give-more-24.org. The event also offers a diverse pool of nonprofits – 130 to be exact – with distinct focuses that may align with your business goals.

As the powering force behind Give More 24!, the Community Foundation helps make connections between participating nonprofits and the business community. To that end, we have developed a roadmap for how businesses can plug into Give More 24! in meaningful ways, and we’re sharing that with interested owners and managers.

No matter how or when you choose to get involved, we’d love to help your company mark its path toward rewarding community investments. Because, in a world where charitable giving has become increasingly strategic, it is important to remember that we can’t move ahead without first getting started.

Janie Spurgeon is the vice president of development at the Community Foundation for Southwest Washington. For more ideas on creating a culture of giving or for assistance in finding an organization to connect with, you can contact her at (360) 694.2550 or visit the website at www.cfsww.org.

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