Corporate giving, corporate social responsibility, community relations – we hear about these important issues all the time. It’s supposedly essential for companies to give back to their communities – to help solve the ills that plague society. But is it really the role of business to address issues like hunger, natural disasters and poverty – or to support causes such as higher education or the arts? Shouldn’t business just be about customers, revenues and the bottom line? Considering that I personally spent six years in an organization dedicated largely to encouraging corporate philanthropy, I have to say that forward-thinking businesses should do more than care about their bottom line. And I’m happy to report that Denver – and our nation – is chock full of business leaders and employees who truly care about their community.
According to the 2009 State of Corporate Citizenship in the United States survey from the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship and The Hitachi Foundation, “In a strong signal that corporate social responsibility has earned a place alongside the bottom line, a survey of nearly 800 companies found most senior executives believe business should take a greater role solving problems in health care, product safety, education and climate change.” The survey results go on to show that “corporate citizenship is weathering the recession and is increasingly being integrated into business strategy and operations.”
I am proud to report that even though we are a small business, we believe in walking the proverbial walk. In addition to helping clients identify nonprofit partners and develop strategic corporate giving plans, GroundFloor Media donates up to 15% each year to nonprofits. Several years ago, GroundFloor Media chose Tennyson Center for Children, one of the Rocky Mountain region’s leading treatment and education centers for abused, neglected and at-risk youth, as its nonprofit partner and began providing pro bono PR services to the organization. Through its Get Grounded program, GroundFloor Media also allows its employees to get paid time off for volunteering and provides matching grants to organizations about which employees feel passionate.
And, GroundFloor Media is not alone. For instance, in 2008 Qdoba Mexican Grill adopted Starlight Children’s Foundation as its national charity partner, to which it donates funds, employee volunteer hours and food. Denver-based St. Mary Land & Exploration Company has sponsored the building of a Habitat for Humanity house each year for the past several years, sending employee volunteers to help with the construction, and in 2009, Pinnacol Assurance awarded more than $250,000 in scholarships to students through its foundation. And this is just a small sample of the many businesses doing great things in their communities and around the world.
But with all of the potential causes and issues out there, how does a company know which one (or ones) to support? A couple of tips to keep in mind:
- In order to ensure buy-in – and even enthusiasm – for the program among employees, it’s a good idea to survey them to identify causes that matter them. If a majority of your employees believe strongly in the need to help bolster public education, then that might be the way to go.
- It can also help give a company direction to consider what causes are most closely related to their product or mission. What can your company offer that others can’t? Take Tide’s Loads of Hope campaign for instance – by providing mobile laundry services to victims of natural disasters, they are building incredible good will through a very unique offering.
- And don’t forget to give employees ways to support their own personal causes, in addition to an overall cause for the corporation. This is a wonderful way to build employee morale and help ensure employee retention.
And, finally – because we would be remiss as a corporate citizen if we didn’t include a plug for our nonprofit partner in a blog post about corporate giving… For more information on how you can help Tennyson Center, be sure to tune in to 9NEWS in Denver on Thursday morning, March 4. Tennyson Center’s president and CEO will be on the 5:30 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. newscasts, and members of the Tennyson Center team will be taking calls about how individuals and groups can get involved.