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Giving Back: How Community Service Initiatives Impact Your Business

— June 17, 2024

Proactive businesses can ensure they have a positive impact, drawing in more customers, nurturing more loyal employees, and leaving a lasting legacy of good that resonates with the public. 

All businesses operate with the goal of becoming profitable, but customers expect more of businesses than providing a product or service. In recent years, there’s been a strong focus on aligning the values of businesses with their employees and customers.

Today’s business customers want more than great pricing. About 71% of Gen Z consumers reported that they are more likely to engage with brands with charitable efforts. This demonstrates how much the market has shifted and how community service can be a differentiator in crowded industries.

Advantages of Community Service for Businesses

Community service and charitable initiatives are rewarding on their own. Whether it’s cleaning up a public area, supporting nonprofit organizations, or attending a charity event for fundraising or awareness, the kindness of the community makes the world a better place.

However, the payoff can be bigger for businesses. When you make charitable efforts part of your business model, you can reap benefits like:

Better Reputation

Social responsibility is a big part of positioning a brand in a positive light with the public. When your business is supporting causes that don’t translate directly to profits, it shows your values and how you’re different from your competitors.

This image also helps your brand recognition. Most people know about Dawn’s marketing campaigns to clean up wildlife from oil spills, or TOMS and Bombas donating their products to people in need – even if they don’t use these products themselves.

More Customer Loyalty

Long-term relationships are the lifeblood of a business. Pricing and customer service matter, but it may not be enough when you have new competitors with new offerings and better deals – especially if they show social responsibility.

Supporting community causes can set your brand apart, however. Customers are more likely to give their money to a brand that’s doing good in the community, leading to more customer support, advocacy, and loyalty.

Improved Employee Morale and Reduced Turnover

Just as businesses are expanding beyond just profits, employees are looking for more than just a paycheck. With options to choose from, they’re committing to companies that are actively involved in the causes they care about.

When you demonstrate your values and put effort into community service, the overall company culture improves dramatically. This can benefit you in the short term and the long term by attracting talent and keeping employees happier in their roles.

How to Integrate Community Service into Your Business

Community service doesn’t need to be a major undertaking for your business. You can start small and grow with your program to make a bigger impact. Here are some tips to get started:

Build Local Nonprofit Partnerships

One of the best ways to begin community service in your community is by partnering with local nonprofit organizations. These organizations already have a reputation connected to their charitable efforts, and they always need help with funding and other types of support.

You can donate, volunteer on community projects, or share resources to help local organizations with their efforts. Partnering on an awareness campaign is another great way to create buzz around a collaboration for a cause. Every little bit counts.

Encourage Employee Involvement

Community service should involve your employees to compound your efforts and show them that you’re delivering on your values. Give employees opportunities to donate or volunteer, particularly with campaigns, and allow flexible scheduling to make it easier for them to balance volunteer work with their job and personal obligations.

Allowing employees to give back on company time, especially when there’s work to be done, shows how important the causes are to you. Over time, you’re likely to get more buy-in from employees, especially if they have a lot to balance in their personal time.

Implement Donation Match

Charitable contributions can be part of your employee benefits packages. Think beyond healthcare, dental, and retirement plans with a matching donation program that amplifies their efforts.

With donation programs, you can allow an employee to choose from several charities, or their own, with a promise to match any amount they donate. This not only encourages them to contribute but demonstrates your commitment to giving back.

Consider Skill-Based Volunteering

Your employees have a lot of skills that can be beneficial to charities, which you can use as part of your community service program. Nonprofit organizations often lack the funds to hire teams for the help they need, especially in marketing, social outreach, human resources, and live event production.

Your own employees can provide the services they need as a nonprofit business, such as marketing, graphic design, administrative work, accounting, and more. For example, your web design team can help them update their website or create an app. Your social media team can create campaigns to raise awareness about a cause or create buzz around an event.

Allow Employees to Contribute as They Choose

Volunteers unloading a truck; image by Joel Muniz, via
Volunteers unloading a truck; image by Joel Muniz, via

You want a culture of charity and giving, but forcing your employees or making it challenging for them won’t help your message. It’s much easier to coordinate your own schedule to volunteer or plan your budget for donations to a cause you care about. When it’s part of a business initiative, it needs to be more flexible to make employees feel motivated, not pressured.

Your employees should have different opportunities to show their support and multiple causes that they feel passionately about. For example, a parent of young children may struggle to find childcare to help out at an in-person event, but they may be able to provide volunteer services in the evening at home. Others may not have a lot of disposable income to give to charity, so they’d prefer to offer their time. Providing different opportunities ensures that everyone can participate in a way that’s comfortable and realistic for them.

Embrace Community Service for Business Growth

For better or worse, businesses impact their communities. Proactive businesses can ensure they have a positive impact, drawing in more customers, nurturing more loyal employees, and leaving a lasting legacy of good that resonates with the public. 

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