The Power of Giving Back: How Community Involvement Can Boost Your Bottom Line
Community involvement is something that many companies ignore, unaware of its benefits.
By being something that is not that common, the companies that promote the community involvement are becoming more and more popular among their customers, and are showing that following this pattern is a possible success, depending on the way it is done.
Generally speaking, the words “community involvement” sound familiar, and the definition is exactly as it sounds: it happens when a corporation or a firm somehow includes the community in their business.
It can be achieved by either directly establishing a relationship with the people of the community and the firm, for example, by organizing an event, or indirectly by upgrading certain aspects of the community, for example, renovating certain important buildings, or helping smaller businesses.
It is important to be engaged in the community not because it is easy or time-saving, but also beneficial for both the community and business.
Studies have shown that people are more likely to support companies that have earned their trust, and are supportive of the community and its surroundings in general.
In further writing, you will be provided with a few examples of certain community involvement types of “events”, how they can help the community, and, most importantly, in which way the company benefits from that kind of community involvement.
HELPING THE PEOPLE OF THE COMMUNITY
This sounds too general as it can mean different kinds of help.
As previously mentioned, there’s direct and indirect help.
As a reminder, direct help is when the corporation is working directly with people, organizing a charity event or a simple gathering, while the indirect would be, for example, helping with the renovation of older, important buildings or a place of importance within the community.
The corporation here achieves two things that are of utmost importance to them: they are helping the community, and they are gaining the trust of the people who are a part of the community.
As a corporation, you have to present yourself as a trusted institution that values its surroundings.
That is why it is important to gain the trust of the community and involve them in your business as much as you can.
Your customers are the people of that community, and you have to hold them in high regard, as they will bring even more customers to you down the line and support you more if you earn their trust.
If you have a newly opened firm, a great start in helping the community would be to organize a charity event for something that is important to the community.
If you want something that requires less organization, a simple community service work, like helping in a soup kitchen, can do the trick.
The people will get to know you and your workers better and will trust you more when they see you taking care of the community.
If your firm is a part of the community for a longer time, the best thing to do is to help it on a larger scale.
The longer you’re a part of a certain community, the more you should be aware of its specific needs.
Maybe the community needs a new gym for a school, maybe a library is in a decrepit state, or the park is in need of a new fountain.
Doing this will greatly increase the relationship between your company and the people of the community, as they will see that you have become the part of that same community by knowing what their needs are and catering to those needs that they have.
This is the first and the easiest step to community involvement. Just remember that those people are potential customers or clients.
Show that you care about them, show them that they can trust you, and show that you respect the community and its members.
INVOLVE YOUR WORKERS WITH THE COMMUNITY
This means organizing the workers of your firm directly into doing something charitable for the community, while still being on a paid workday.
Involving your workers with extra curriculum activities might sound too overwhelming for them.
However, studies have shown that workers are feeling happier when they feel they provide more meaningful work.
If you organize your workers for a community helping event, they will feel they are contributing more, thus feeling happy and refreshed.
There is a number of ways workers can be involved with the community.
They can be tasked with bringing food and water to homeless shelters, or they can help with organizing a Christmas play with giving out Christmas gifts to the children, among other things.
This way, the company not only establishes itself as a charitable one but also provides its workers with much-needed focus reallocation.
The workers will be provided with a nice change of pace, will be more relaxed, will appreciate the change of environment and goals, and will feel refreshed when they return back to regular work.
In addition, it also boosts the work atmosphere because they will feel that they contributed to a greater cause and the workers will be able to do their job better if they feel better.
The way the company will also benefit is the fact that the workers will become more inspired and collaborative, and will boost their teamwork, organizational skills, communication skills, planning, and leadership skills, which will definitely be useful for the company.
Organizing this type of event might prove tricky.
Your workers have to have organizational skills themselves, venues have to be reserved for the planned event, finances have to be invested in toys, actors, food, or whatever material is needed, depending on the planned event.
It is a bit more difficult in terms of organization, but it provides more benefits than the previous entry in the article.
Although it is a bit of a chore to organize your workers into volunteering, it is definitely beneficial not only to the community but also to the workers and company.
MAINTAIN TRANSPARENCY WITH YOUR COMMUNITY
This is one of the easier ways to build trust with your community.
Maintaining transparency in a way that you try to be as open as possible to the community, by either explaining what you do, how you plan to give back to the community, and what you have done for the community.
If you have already helped the community in some way, do not be shy about it.
Put it on the company website, or make a habit of organizing an annual small gathering for the community where you will speak about those deeds that you have done for them and show them your plans regarding the future of the community.
The main goal here is to simply be proud of what you want to do or have done for the community and not hide it.
Doing this will mostly provide you with some good reputation in the community, and your company will send a message to other possible partner companies that you are to be trusted and that you care for people.
Another useful plan might be to be open to the community in terms of your company’s business.
Explain in detail what you plan to do business-wise and in which way it can positively affect the community or how it will not negatively affect it. Reassurance is the key, as well as mutual trust.
In order to make your business more transparent to the community, the most important trait is to be honest, because people will appreciate and accept you quicker.
When the community sees the amount of money, time and energy that your company has contributed and gave back to the community, they will understand how much you mean to them as well.
It is important to remember that transparency can also be harmful to the company.
You should be careful not to expose too much of your plans because some of them might be used by other companies, or some plans regarding the community might not work out in the end.
Think carefully about the level of transparency you wish to provide, and discuss with your team how much detailed your plans should be before exposing them to the community.
People will love your company more when they see you are contributing to a noble cause.
STRIVE TO BECOME THE CORPORATE PHILANTHROPIST OF THE COMMUNITY
This can be considered an extension to the first entry, just on a larger scale.
Striving for the “philanthropic” adjective is basically solely focusing on injecting financial support into the community infrastructure, and being aware that it is not a reciprocal exchange, in terms of finances.
There is a large number of companies that are philanthropic in nature, and they enjoy bigger success than the companies that are not giving back to the community.
These companies that are the largest philanthropists all enjoy the reciprocal trust with the customers and show themselves as caring and companies that are willing to help everyone they can.
Being a philanthropist is much more than just helping the community: you are actually investing a lot of time and financial support in the community’s essential needs and are becoming acquainted with their problems.
This learning of their problems can change your way of thinking and possibly make you more humble and more analytical of your future business endeavors.
Another positive outcome of being a philanthropist company is that you create markets by supporting the impoverished areas and the surrounding markets.
By investing the money that the community gave you in that same community, you can actually increase the revenue in the future.
It can be as simple as just renovating the run-down parts of the city, or helping struggling businesses in your surroundings. You can also engage in educational activities, workshops and programs you will give out pro bono.
Doing this will generate good will among the community and you will further develop your market through that newly developed reputation.
These philanthropic endeavors have a bigger grasp on the society and will also generate favorable opinions and interest from the community which could lead to higher sales figure.
Before committing to this, you have to make a team of trustful people who will advise you on the places that need financial support.
This step is a big step for a company to make, but it is one that connects you closer to the people of the community.
Having said that, be aware that these philanthropic activities are more time and money consuming than a simple and smaller “helping the community” event, but have better results.
You have to be ready and prepared to invest a huge amount of time and money and, above all, research, if you wish to have a guarantee that it will be a successful investment.
Before making this huge step, learn to expect nothing in return, that being the point of philanthropy.
INVOLVE THE MEMBERS OF THE COMMUNITY WITH YOUR BUSINESS
This simply means you will talk with them instead of talking to them. Value their opinions and their voice.
Hear their concerns and suggestions. You and your corporation are a part of the community, so make them a part of your corporation.
You can take them on a tour of the premises, make presentations about the company’s history and past endeavors.
People like when they are allowed to provide input on something, so ask them what they would change, what they would like to see more of, etc.
Show them that you are giving your best to make your workplace healthy in every possible way and that you care for the working atmosphere and your workers. Reassure them that you will be there to help them.
Be open and honest with them. The people will support your company if you support a cause they believe in.
The company in that way will show that it is there for the people and that it is not just another “soulless” corporate machine.
The fact that it values other people’s opinions is a great advertisement for the company itself, as every person that attends the presentation or the office tour is a potential employee or someone that will refer a potential employee to you.
Involving the members of the community will also make you think outside the box by hearing their opinions.
There are people from different social backgrounds, with different experiences in life.
Their view on things can drastically enhance the way you think and approach problems.
This step requires careful planning of the event that garners your attention.
Holding a presentation about your company’s goals and history might prove to be less than interesting for some attendees, so you should think carefully how to approach that target group.
The best way to tackle this step is to be honest and avoid following a speech pattern, as the people will see you as another salesman.
As previously mentioned, one of the goals here is for the company to present itself as a good working place.
Other companies always go for this route, even though they do not link it with community involvement.
Usually, they focus on their existing workers and use their quotes about the beauty of their workplace.
However, focusing on the future is essential here, which is why talking with the attendees and potential future workers, valuing them as people, valuing their opinion and input, is something that creates a bond between your company and them.
This way you show them that you are a human, same as them and that you see them as human beings.
Community involvement is something that most companies ignore, even though there are benefits to contributing to the community.
While there is a number of companies that contribute to the community, most companies do not do it in a way that is effective.
Instead of getting close to the community and hearing their problems, most companies help them financially from afar.
It is noble, but it also creates a distance, and it does not give a face for people to know.
Though it may be time-consuming, these community involvement strategies will surely give you advantages that will help the company.
Being beneficial to both the community and the company, these strategies should be considered and implemented as soon as possible.
In conclusion, community involvement can be a powerful thing, no matter whether the company in question is a small one, a new one, or an already established one.
It is a powerful tool that can be of great use in the future of the companies and the people to which the companies give help.
Always have in mind that each of these steps requires a lot of time and financial stability: that is why it should be carefully planned and applied with great focus and tenacity if you truly wish to make a mark.
In the end, giving back to the community will help you discover a sense of purpose which will fulfill you and motivate you to work harder than before and actually enjoy it.
That is something most of the corporations fail to instill nowadays.