The Christmas spirit is something we all love and appreciate. It brings us together and inspires each and every one of us to hope and dream of what is possible in even the smallest of actions.
Personally it’s remarkably easy to put these values of doing good into practise. Donating, fundraising, gifts, warm hugs, or well wishes… they all help change the world one action at a time. Seeing these opportunities to take that extra step, attend that one awareness-building event, or rallying your contacts for a cause all turn up once we stat looking for them.
Now when it comes to your business or employer, are these opportunities being embraced? My feeling is a no for most businesses.
Charitiablizing your business must become a key of building a strong and loyal customer base and also for self-empowering your place in the community and market. Large enterprises see these opportunities and take advantage of them by encourage employee participation in fundraising and by sponsoring community, so why haven’t most small and medium-sized businesses taken strides to do so?
Opportunities every small and medium business should embrace to become more charitable
- Define your company and customer culture
Of course you’ve got a pulse on who your customers are because your research programs and analytics have helped you identify their core clusters. You know what motivates them in their lives, what they strive to achieve, how your brand impacts their lives, and why they’ve chosen you over your competitors. For those of you having trouble answering this, it’s time to make a big time investment now. Now the other side of this very important equation is your company and staff culture. For better or worse your company has a position in the community and also in the lives of your employees.Now is the time to take all of that and define the culture you want. These values should drive your charitablizing program and will set the tone and direction for everything to come.
- Demand more out of your own place in the community
Ambitious owners and leaders are more than welcome to challenge themselves to build a grand vision because every step closer to it will feel damned good and your staff will respect it. Community stewardship is the most iconic form of building a loyal core of customers and it’s no surprise banks and political leaders live and die by this tenent as a way to separate from competitors. Partners will shine brightly and opportunities will become very apparent once the clear vision and goals have been set.Embrace this, it’s not about taking on extra work, it’s in fact going to be the campaign with the highest ROI you’ll ever work on.
- Challenge leaders to stand-up and encourage education
That quiet writer in the corner and the colourful human resources team member may not have stood up much at board meetings or at the holiday party but they may in fact have a fire burning in them to do more for this world. A simple conversation piece or a one-on-one conversation about their lives can quickly expose what motivates them and the community projects they already are tackling. Building a culture of supporting education and of staff going to seminars and lectures will further raise this.Once you make it clear that your company needs leaders for projects that resonate, these people will rise and the challenges thrown down will be gladly picked up. The clearer the vision, the more transparent the goals, and the more altruistic the motivation, the more these people will take these projects on.
- Transform social events into community projects
You should just deal with the fact that most staff actually dread company outings and staff parties. The stress they can cause and the worries about etiquette in these informal settings gives some people the chills because they don’t feel like they can act like the real person they are. Let’s just abolish these hopes of building fun events between staff members and hoping that a few drinks and some out-of-the-catalogue entertainment will get people to loosen up. What will work best? Give people goals they’re excited for and a fun project that extols the real person and hopes in each of them.Here’s the key: many social events can easily be shifted over to encourage community participation, fundraising, awareness programs, and personal challenges. Pretty much any type of fundraising tool and organization exists today and with social media, they are easier than ever to bring people together to work on. In the case of the company Christmas party, it’s as simple as asking every staff member to bring a new toy or new clothing donation plus working with a liquor/venue partner to allow for all sales to go to a cause.
- Give back for the hell of it
As much as these aspirations will hit home the most during the holiday season, the point should be to give more often and to become a community leader in developing a customer-base and employee-base which respects and expects this company to step up. In moments like the horrible typhoon that struck the Philippines or an employee who now has a disabled child, your ability to have flexible components, key charitable partners, and a team that wants to make an impact will all lead to a very agile approach to any event.
Again I need to stress here that as much as everything outlined above feels like an added weight to the company and to your balance sheet, both are incorrect. Making these shifts are easy when you have a fundamental understanding of your staff, your place in the community, and why your customers interact with your brand. Due to tax credits and the openness of many of those involved, making charitable contributions will usually only cost your organization time and for the most part you’ll find that your team and your customers will gladly give that in truck-loads if you lead them.
Areas to consider when making these shifts:
- Changes to the company Holiday party entrance or liquor costs
- Monthly social event as part of a blogging, employee retention, team-building exercise
- Donate a specific legacy product line or add-on service to charity and see sales for it go up
- Building out portions of a new partnership to cover a joint community-endeavour
- Holiday gift to your staff where you ask them to contribute to a charity of their choice through a company system like Chimp.net
- Allow staff to have one paid leave day per month (let’s call it a community action day) to work on a community project
- Create a company team for atheletic fundraising events
- Challenge staff to participate in events that align with your professional background like Canstruction does for the design community
- Publicly address major life changes that have hit one of your employees as a way to raise support rather than back-room whispers
- Include local lectures and community-based programming into your employee newsletter