Incorporating a corporate social responsibility program helps your company meet multiple bottom lines. One of the best attributes of creating a program like this is sharing the nonprofit’s story with your customers. It is proven that consumers, especially millennials, are more likely to purchase from a company that has a socially responsible backbone. This being said, it is crucial to share your efforts.
There are many ways to invite your customers into your social responsibility story. Every couple months various retail outlets ask if you would like to round up your bill or add a few dollars to your total for them to give to a charity. For some business this is an easy and efficient way to include your customers, others may need to get more creative. Having co-branded collateral is a great way to share the story of your nonprofit partnership with your customers. Work with the organization you have linked arms with to create something that is beneficial for both parties. It might even something they can give out to their staff and volunteers as well. Another effective way to share the story of your partnership is to create a landing page on your website. Customers can easily click to receive more information and even visit the nonprofit’s website.
Regardless of which medium your company chooses, share your story with your customers. It is a gift to invite them into the work your company feels passionate about doing.
You’ve heard it, a famous athlete or movie star talks about some cause or charity they support and they say something like, “this is a great cause and I’m proud to be able to give back”. We’re not “giving back”. What? Before you go crazy let me explain. We are “giving”. It is important to us and part of who we are. We “give” in lots of ways from charitable contributions, personal service, kindness to others, and an awareness of our environment.
What we don’t do is “give back”. This implies that we took something that didn’t belong to us and returned a portion to some cause or charity. Words mean things. We didn’t take something that didn’t belong to us, but we do have a responsibility as citizens to make our community a better place. There are lots of ways we do this.
At Artistry Hotels, we do this through contributions to organizations that enable people to help themselves. We do this through a program called “Stay. Change A Life.” We also do it by being aware of our footprint and using sustainable products, supporting local artisans and farmers, and striving to provide a great place to work. Personally, I do it through contributions to organizations in my community and to my church. I mentor, serve in ministry, and strive to focus on others.
In the scriptures, Jesus said in Luke 12:48(b), “Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.” Our charge is not to “give back”, but to give and to serve. The more we have, the more that is required. Here is the really cool part, being generous makes us happy. Scientist in Zurich just published a study that showed this. They said, “Our study provides behavioral and neural evidence that supports the link between generosity and happiness.” We are wired to be generous! “Giving back” focuses on us, giving focuses on others!
How can you show generosity today?
Financial donations are highly valued for nonprofits. They can keep their doors open, employees paid, and causes moving forward. However, there is an opportunity companies have to give more. I will highlight 5 ways companies can give back in ways other than financial contributions.
- In Kind Donations
Gifts in kind are contributions of goods or services. These donations provide benefit for both parties. If a company has extra resources that are still in good condition, donating them to a nonprofit is the next step. Often these donations can be written off as well.
- Employee Work Day
An employee work day is a great opportunity. I know of a construction company, that twice a year rallies their staff around donating a Saturday morning to help with a Habitat for Humanity project. The employees are able to leverage their expertise and give back to the community. Times like this provide a way to incorporate your staff with your charitable giving and is a team bonding activity.
- Sharing the Non-profits Mission with Customers
Involving your customers by sharing a nonprofits mission can be inviable. Leveraging your communication channels for the benefit of an organization is one way to accomplish this. Another way is to collaborate on collateral that involves both parties’ visions and give information on the partnership. I believe customers will see value in your efforts as a company and the organization will benefit from the PR.
- Job Training Resources//Education
Your company has a niche, something you excel in and use to draw your customers in. What about leveraging that knowledge and sharing it with an organization’s members? Taking a morning to share customer service tips, or holding a seminar to explain tracking SEO. These are just a few examples, but using the knowledge that your company and employees possess to equip a nonprofit could be an invaluable experience.
- Long-Term Commitment
In my opinion, identifying a key nonprofit you can invest in is crucial. You can then spend your time, resources, and money building a lasting relationship. It is vital for charitable organizations to have partners for the long haul. Like most business and personal relationships, investing in the future can change everything about the present.
For most of my career it was expected that I would show up at my workplace every day. Come in early, leave late. Put in the hours, do the work. It was what my bosses early in my career expected, and what I expected of my team when I launched my first business. It was how we did business. It was how everyone did business. Two massive disruptions changed this. First, business today is more about knowledge and less about process and repetitive tasks and second, technology made access to information available from anywhere.
If I need information today I can access it from a coffee shop, in my car, on an airplane, at the beach, or from home. It made working remotely possible. This coupled with a shift in corporate attitudes has led to a significant growth in working remotely. This shift was fueled greatly by companies’ ability to reduce office space and therefor cost by having a percentage of their employees work remotely.
At our company members of our team work away from our headquarters regularly. We couldn’t have done this effectively just a few years ago.
Just ten years ago, the first iPhone was introduced by Steve Jobs and Apple. This device launched a revolution in how we communicate and work. It changed everything. Well, not everything. Apple has begun moving its employees into their new $5 billion headquarters. For the first time in a decade, Apple is consolidating all of their Silicon Valley employees into one facility. Why?
“For all the beauty of technology and all things we’ve helped facilitate over the years, nothing yet replaces human interaction and I don’t think it will ever happen.”
Apple believes that human interaction is the key to innovation and their continued success.
At Artistry Hotels, we are building a culture that practices “The Art of Hospitality”. For us that is about delivering what our guest is looking for: to be inspired, to be taken care of, to feel welcome, to be themselves, to be enriched, and to support the greater good in a truly powerful way. Technology can help us do this, but true hospitality, “The Art of Hospitality” can’t be delivered by technology. It takes human interaction. It is a friendly smile, conversation, delivery of service. It is engagement. We don’t believe that there is any substitute for human engagement.
Technology, when used correctly, allows us to leverage our teams’ skill and resources to drive innovation, service, and customer satisfaction. It is a tool, it does not replace human interaction. We agree with Tim Cook, it never will. When you are building your company or division, don’t forget the power of human interaction.
Technology does a lot of really amazing things. It has facilitated and created massive forward movements in our society. I think that often people view technology on either of two extremes. People love it, craft their life around it, and crave the next devise they can purchase. Others are scared of the negative consequences, screen addiction, or the simple truth that in many ways it makes us live in a virtual world. Like many things in life, the best use of technology lies somewhere in the middle. It is somewhere that cannot be perfectly defined, and is different for every individual.
Tim Cook, Apples CEO recently said, “For all of the beauty of technology and all the things we’ve helped facilitate over the years, nothing yet replaces human interaction, and I don’t think it will ever happen.” I think this is profound and in makes that middle ground a little clearer.
Technology has moved the business world forward in ways that were once unimaginable. Yet, it has not replaced trust between individuals entering a deal together, a friendly front desk interaction, or even the genuine words of a thank you email. I think it is best for us to live in that middle ground with technology. We should embrace the way it makes us, as humans, better. It challenges us and pushes us to levels we used to only dream of, yet, it doesn’t replace the beauty of genuine human interaction.
What are productive ways you leverage technology and still integrate human interaction?
Valuing your employees and setting them up for success can provide tremendous benefit to your work place. Here are six ways to value your employees:
1. Groups need a set of shared values. Values are the filter we use for making decisions. What is right and what is wrong. For example, in our organization we believe that our team members deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. This means no yelling, belittling, or intimidating. We also believe we get paid for doing, not for trying. These values are not contradictory. When a team member is underperforming they deserve to be addressed without yelling, belittling, or intimidating. It doesn’t mean they get a pass on underperforming. To the contrary, we owe it to our team to expect the best from each of us and to communicate openly and honestly about our performance.True values are manifested in how we act, not in a fancy sign in the lobby. The quickest way to destroy your culture is to allow your team members to act in a manner that differs from your stated values. When we act in concert with our values we demonstrate that people matter.
2. Hire for values first – skills second. If you have a position that requires people to be nice, start by hiring nice people. Too often we get bogged down in looking at skills and strengths and miss the most important thing. Use values and attitude as a screening tool, then and only then, move to skills and experience.
When we hire for values first we demonstrate that people matter.
3. Groups need diversity. Having shared values doesn’t mean everyone thinks alike. In order to grow as an organization you need diversity of thought and approach. Men and women can share values, but have very different approaches to problems. So too different races and cultural backgrounds. Without diversity your organization can rapidly develop “group think” and cease to see beyond the group. An organization that develops group think is headed for death.
When we build a team of diverse individuals we demonstrate that people matter.
4. Provide incentives that reinforce your values. If your incentive programs incentivize just individuals you discourage collaboration and shared values. Make sure you have incentives for the group and individuals. If you say that quality is number one, but you incentivize people based on how fast and how cheap they complete their project you are acting against your stated values. Your incentives should reinforce behaviors consistent with your values.
When we utilize incentive plans that reinforce behaviors consistent with our shared values we demonstrate that people matter.
5. Relationships are at the core of life. We are made to be in relationship with other people. Even introverts need human interaction. At the end of our time on earth what will matter is the investment we made in others. How did I help someone else? How did I make a difference? This is the core of developing a group of people who achieve great things.
When we build relationships we demonstrate that people matter.
6. Don’t tolerate people who act in contradiction to your values. One of the hardest things for any entrepreneur to do is terminate a high performer, but if that high performer is acting against your values they are a cancer that will destroy your culture and your organization.When we terminate those who act in disregard of our values regardless of their level of performance we demonstrate that people matter.
The power of a group of people who share values and a belief that they matter is incredibly powerful. When we create a group that is focused on people, we develop a unique and powerful culture that is able to do great things. Margaret Mead said it best,
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.
Question: Is your organization focused on people? If so, what are some of the ways you are demonstrating your focus on people. If not, what are some of the things you can implement right away to create a focus on people?