I have been blessed to travel around the world on short term mission trips with various organizations. One specific trip to Malawi in 2015 truly changed my heart, perspective, and future plans. On this trip, I worked with a company that sells products made by women in a specific village partnership. My eyes were opened to how for-profit companies can be leveraged to create lasting impact. I dove head first into learning all I could about corporate social responsibility.
During this process, I reached out to people I respected and asked how I could learn more. Consistently a book called, When Helping Hurts was recommended. It became an incredibly valuable resource for me and has to continued to be to this day.
When Helping Hurts looks at the best approach for alleviating poverty. Unfortunately, so often the tactics used for helping the poor end up adding to the negative cycle that hurts the recipient and the giver. Written by Steve Corbet and Brian Fikkert, the book presents many examples of how even with the best intentions, it is easy to get a vastly different outcome than what the donor intended. Corbet and Fikkert provide a new way of looking at impoverished situations and offer a fresh perspective for how to go about delivering developmental aid.
This book has been crucial in how I examine our potential charitable partners here at Artistry. I highly recommend it. Feel free to pick up your copy here.
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.
You have heard the term “social responsibility” used more and more over the past few years. Companies everywhere have begun to examine their carbon footprint and ways they can give back to communities. Every year more companies engage this in a new way. It is reported that Fortune 500 firms spend more than $15 billion a year on Corporate Social Responsibility. With so many engaged in this new way of thinking, the question begs to be asked: what makes social responsibility so important?
In regards to going green our need is to conserve our resources. Though it can seem like small steps, having lower powered light bulbs or recycling plastic bottles, really can make a difference. How we link arms and work together is a crucial part to this. It matters that we all take steps we can within our industry, few can argue that if we all did that, change would occur.
A newer approach to social responsibility is giving back to the community. In kind and financial donations can make incredible differences in lives of those that are impacted by organizations. One of the best ways I have seen this done is through nonprofit partnerships. Around the world there are organizations doing life changing work. It is exciting to see companies of any size come alongside these organizations, leveraging them to do even more of the important work they do.
As ChipHeadley.com develops, corporate social responsibility will be a focus point. We deeply care about the people and the environment around us. Our desire is for those values to be continually integrated into the business sector. Through our own experience and research, we are excited to share more of what we know and our passion it.