Mark Gregor, CEO of Velir
Job seekers and customers today are increasingly seeking organizations that embody a culture of giving back. Several recent studies have highlighted the benefits of corporate philanthropy – for example, a recent study by America’s Charities found that 68 percent of employers reported that their employees expect them to support volunteerism. Another study found that 81 percent of Millennials expect companies to make a public commitment to good corporate citizenship and that they remain loyal customers of companies that have built philanthropy into their business strategy. Similarly, job seekers are drawn to companies that enable them to do meaningful work and positively impact their communities. Corporate philanthropy has even been found to boost employee retention rates.
Organizations today are seeking to develop a culture of doing good and doing this begins with strong leadership. It is important that the company’s purpose and values are defined at the outset and are reflected in every aspect of the organization’s operations. Organizations that succeed in making decisions based on their core values can foster a culture in which employees feel valued, and just as importantly, are able to do work of value. They can ensure a happy, committed, and passionate staff directly aligned with the missions of the company and its clients.
What steps should you take to create a philanthropic culture?
1. Work with customers you believe in
Potential clients should be evaluated based on their fit with your portfolio, your values, and what the long-term value proposition looks like. Don’t be afraid to be selective and be patient if an account does not grow the bottom line in the first quarter or first year. The best way to meet clients’ creative and technical challenges is to be as committed and invested in the mission as they are. Invest time in understanding who they are, what makes them tick and where their needs lie.
When you genuinely adopt your clients’ missions as your own, you will be able to motivate employees in a way that that allows you to craft solutions that have real, measurable impact and delight your clients and their audience. This is the most effective way to bring significant value to your clients, take their mission further, and attract and retain the most dedicated, passionate, and talented staff.
2. Make investments in the future
An important part of a successful business strategy is ensuring your clients feel that you are a true long-term partner in their business. In practical terms this means being highly responsive, providing white-glove service and always asking yourself, “what more can we bring to this relationship and how can we provide more value?”
Consider sacrificing short-term profit for the long-term health of the account. Focus on close collaboration and clear, honest communication with clients in order to secure mutual trust and you will have a client for life.
3. Support your employees
Offer competitive compensation, modern infrastructure and tools and an atmosphere that fosters career progress and change. Be genuinely vested in your employees’ growth – commit to their training, learning, and career growth by opening up vertical and lateral opportunities throughout the company.
Also provide opportunities and programs that encourage employees to volunteer and offer corporate benefits for their efforts. For example, provide employees paid time to volunteer at local community cleanups, educational meetups, charity walks and other similar events.
4. Participate in your community
Organizations have an obligation to invest not only in themselves, but in their larger community. With that aim, when developing vendor relationships, make sure to look at local companies first. Devote time and resources to local charities and organizations. Investing time and resources in impactful community projects will go a long way in helping your employees feel more connected to the community and your company.
By following these four steps now, you can start down the road of creating a company culture that values philanthropy—an investment that can have a significant impact on your company, and your community, in the long term.
About the Author
Mark Gregor is CEO of Velir, a digital experience agency specializing in helping non-profits, associations and foundations to increase their effectiveness through personalized web design.