What are your business goals for 2015? I hope at least one involves giving back to your community. Deepening your involvement in a community-based charitable organization or not-for-profit can help satisfy your employees’ desire to make a difference while also supporting a good cause and firmly establishing your business and its identity.
I’ve seen it with the top brokers we work with and at my company.
The Benefits of Giving Back
If your company is like so many other smaller brokerages, your employees want to support the community where they live. And yet you probably feel that an agency your size couldn’t possibly contribute anything to a local charity. Your staff is too small and your financial resources – well, they are dedicated to keeping your business functioning. You know you have a genuine drive to give back to the community that has supported your business, but you don’t know where to start or feel there’s not much for you to offer.
What many brokerages don’t realize is how little investment it can take to make a real, significant impact on a local charitable organization. The rewards you can reap from your involvement, while secondary, can also be substantial.
No one gives just to receive. The very notion of that completely undermines the essence of generosity and the spirit of giving back. Your generosity must come first – and from there, the impact your business can have on the community is limitless. By forming a relationship with a local charitable organization or not-for-profit, there are some inherent positive effects that will change your business:
- Inspire and Retain Your Employees: Most employees want to work for a company that gives back. Brokerages that are involved in the community can help point their employees to causes they really want to get behind. This helps employees feel more enthusiastic about what they do. And they achieve their goal of doing more than just earning a paycheck.
- Team Build: Any group of employees – large or small – typically come with diverse backgrounds and from different circumstances in life. Involvement in a local charitable organization gives these employees a central cause they can all rally around and the opportunity to build real comradery. By focusing their efforts on a not-for-profit endeavor, employees can develop real teamwork and help the community in ways that you can’t achieve at the office.
- Increase Business Connections: As a side benefit to community involvement, you and your employees will naturally begin to establish contacts with other local business people in the community in ways you might not otherwise. For example, networking events always feel forced and artificial. The best networking comes when you meet someone who is volunteering for a not-for-profit or charitable organization that motivates you or that they believe in, and then you form a bond based on that shared passion.
- Brand Build: Involvement with not-for-profits as an agency will help you brand your agency – it helps you show what your business stands for and may potentially earn referrals down the road.
Lead with a Giving Hand
At my company, we are incredibly fortunate to work for a philanthropic organization. The ability to get out into the community and give back is important to our company and customers. While giving back might sound like an old cliché, we feel as though it’s a responsibility and a benefit we receive for working for such a large company. Community involvement helps our employees get out of the building and reshape what can be an insular view of the world. Not everyone is as well off as we are, and we see that firsthand every day.
For example, my company is deeply involved in an organization that helps men, women and children who have been injured, lost a limb, lost their ability to walk or talk to regain some of their cognitive and physical abilities so they can get back to living, or in many cases, get back to work. As a board member of this organization, this is incredibly meaningful to me and supports our mission of helping people persevere and get back to work when possible.
The amount of involvement we’ve had in not-for-profits as well as charitable and community giving the last four or five years has raised awareness about who we are and why our business is here. We’re an interesting company in that even though we’re headquartered in Kansas City, we don’t really have any more business in our community than we do in any other city. That means many local residents often aren’t familiar with us. But through the events and charities we support, our logo has appeared on banners and other promotional materials, and most importantly our employees are out in the community. Now we encounter far more people who have heard of us and know what we do. And, as an interesting side note, our charitable involvements have helped us most with employment openings. People now know who we are and want to work for us.
If there are a lot of people wearing different hats at your agency, it’s not always easy to fit charitable activities into the day. That’s why it’s integral for a small agency to make their charitable involvements very strategic and deliberate. Rather than spend an hour or two at three or four different agencies volunteering, find one agency you can support in a big way, even if it’s just one event that they host every year. Many agencies like to get involved in fundraising golf tournaments, but there are other avenues you can follow to be involved. For example, you can sponsor a marathon event and make that the focus of your charitable effort.
However you choose to get involved, you can make a difference. Your brokerage has much to offer a needy organization. Why not get involved? You’ll be proud of your work and have a new way to reply to questions about what you do for a living.