December is the most popular month for giving. From Thanksgiving through Christmas and looking beyond to a new year, there is a spirit of giving and charity amongst individuals as well as corporations, regardless of beliefs. For most, this time of year also brings a sense of joy and happiness. So are the two connected? Can giving produce joy and happiness, and bring people together? Just like we try to teach our children the old adage that it is better to give than to receive, it’s an important concept for companies to remember as well, and many are reaping the rewards that come from putting it into practice.
First, giving back is great PR. A company with a culture of philanthropic activity will gain notice almost immediately. Through social media and news outlets, people want to know what corporations are out there making a difference in their communities, instead of who is just raking in the cash (hello Scrooge!). The impact of this type of publicity cannot be overstated. After all, it’s no secret that many consumers make buying decisions based as much on how they feel about a company as on how they feel about a product or service.
Second, giving back increases employee morale. Employees may feel a sense of pride and gratitude that they work for a company that cares about more than just the all mighty dollar. Furthermore, engaging employees in charitable efforts can create a sense of unity and bring people together from all levels. This can tear down strong hierarchical walls and ultimately increase productivity as a whole. Many companies give time in addition to dollars, providing time off to employees to participate in various events such as cleanup efforts, planting, building houses, etc. Stepping away from work to work together towards a common goal may help reduce stress levels and rejuvenate a weary team.
Third, the community benefits. When a company offers grants or financial support, for example, the local organizations receiving support are able to obtain much needed supplies and programs that might otherwise go unfunded. Volunteering employee time offers local establishments the manpower they would not otherwise have. These benefits help to strengthen the community in which employees live. Depending on the specific help offered, the efforts may result in a cleaner community, more opportunities for residents and a boost to the local economy.
Fourth, contributions can stimulate innovation. For example, grants to universities and other organizations provide corporations with new ideas, access to technical expertise, and opportunities for research and development collaboration. In essence, giving back can open new doors and unique partnerships that may not have existed otherwise.
Finally, giving can change lives. A smattering of dollars thrown here and there is nice but may not have a huge impact on local efforts. However, there is power in coming together as a whole, pooling both time and resources, to make a larger impact within a local or perhaps national charitable organization. Leveraging the power of numbers can create real change and lasting impact. I’ve seen some corporations work together to pool even more resources, making it a sort of friendly competition, with all proceeds going in the same ‘pot,’ so to speak.
While giving shouldn’t be just about corporate image or innovation, it’s important for companies to remember that there are more benefits to creating or maintaining a culture of giving than just ‘it’s the right thing to do.’ Yes, giving back is the right thing to do, but the benefits are far-reaching. I believe it really is true that you can get more by giving back.