Has Your Company's Charitable Giving Become an Empty Ritual?
Employees are often asked to support a charity adopted by the company’s executive.
In many cases, employees do contribute but without any meaningful connection created between them and the charity. While the donations may be put to good use, the act of giving thus becomes more of an empty ritual.
As a CEO, I strongly believe that every company has a role, big or small, in the greater community. And it's important for leaders to consider new ways to foster a community connection for their company and employees as well.
As the season of giving arrives, I challenge you to follow a different path in giving back.
For corporate participation in community activities to be truly meaningful to your entire company, employees must be engaged and enthusiastic.
Once employees become engaged, their participation creates a unique bond between the employees, the company and the community. In addition, when members of your team give from the heart, contribution amounts may soar.
Here are suggestions aimed at engendering meaningful community participation:
1. Let employees take the wheel.
Let a meaningful portion of the company's community activities to be employee driven. This would be for the whole spectrum of endeavors, including any work with charities, youth sports, church activities or fun runs.
A community program that builds employee pride and corporate culture and that inspires connection with the company should be as diverse as the employee base itself. Let employees lead you to community events and don’t force anyone to participate in programs devoid of meaning for them.
2. Involve staffers in your outreach efforts.
In turn, bring your employees along when you, as a company leader, become involved in a community event. For example, if you're passionate about the work of a local food bank, donate generously and invite your employees to do the same.
Even stage a food drive or volunteer at the facility. Activities that stir excitement within your organization and that simultaneously benefit a charity forge a company bond and a sense of mission.
3. Be active.
Look for programs that invite more than sheer monetary donation. Find a charity that lets employees participate, make a difference outside work and involve their families, too.
Some of these activities may become memorable events for your employees. You can't put a price tag on the goodwill created when the company’s name is emblazoned on the soccer jersey of an employee’s child.
4. Switch things around.
If you enjoy regularly donating to a certain, keep on doing so. Continuity can instill pride and ownership.
At the same time, consider taking on a new cause each year in addition. By giving attention to a variety of charities of interest to employees, more team members will become engaged.
Think about community service as a low-cost investment with a tremendous payback. Done right, the resulting connections that you promote within the company, employees and the community will drive pride and loyalty.
Corporate culture and management advisor Brian Fielkow is the author of Driving to Perfection: Achieving Business Excellence by Creating a Vibrant Culture, a how-to book based on his 25 years of executive leadership experience at public and privately held companies. With a doctorate in law from Northwestern University School of Law, he serves as owner and president of Jetco Delivery, a logistics company in Houston that specializes in regional trucking, heavy haul and national freight.