By Pete Parker
As a business leader, what is your impression of the non-profit community? Do you view the organizations within the sector as always seeking support in their attempt to create impact? Or, do you look at community organizations as vehicles of opportunity; vehicles of performance; vehicles of growth?
As a leader of your company, you’re continually looking for ways to maximize the return on your investments, particularly the funds spent on people and marketing. You incorporate all the typical (tried and true) methods of generating profits. But have you ever considered viewing the non-profit sector as an investment?
It’s likely that your business receives countless requests from local charities to make donations, sponsor events, or contribute to people in need. And, it’s likely that you’ve supported these organizations either through your marketing, charitable contributions, and/or advertising budgets for truly noble reasons. If you or your business has supported causes or organizations, kudos to you. There’s no doubt that your support met deserving community needs.
Have you ever leveraged your community investments? If you haven’t viewed the non-profit sector as a vehicle for corporate growth, you might consider taking a deeper look. As you do, you might want to keep in mind the potential value driven by corporate donations and employee volunteerism.
For example, did you ever think that one of your company’s best practices could be to feature employee volunteerism as one method of retaining your most qualified personnel? Not only are you adding a level of flexibility to your staff member’s daily routine, you’re enabling your staffer to become more in-tune and connected with the community. If you typically send staff to conferences to pick up new skills, you’ll see considerable savings (and improved skills retention) by encouraging staff members to volunteer in roles which could provide benefit to your company. One idea would be to send an accounting staffer to a non-profit organization which has an opportunity on its marketing and/or development committees.
As a result of Illinois-based, Adventist Midwest Health’s strategic plan, which aims to improve employee engagement and patient satisfaction, employee turnover has decreased and employee satisfaction has increased.
And for example, do you completely leverage the benefits offered through event sponsorships? With most, sponsors receive a table (or foursome), where they’re able to bring guests. Well, could you fill the spots with top clients or hot prospective clients? Most sponsorship benefits include public displays of your image (on letters, posters, advertisements, programs and/or websites. Rather than simply send a logo, you might think about sending along a message (like your mission, or a call-to-action). How about placing a reciprocal link with the charity’s logo (and reason for supporting) on your website? Would you consider issuing a press release announcing your partnership with the community organization?
According to the 2007 Cone Cause Evolution Environmental Survey, “There has been a shift in the value equation: good business used to be primarily about providing quality products/services at a fair value. But this is no longer sufficient for competitive differentiation. Companies need to display humanity and support issues that resonate with stakeholders to build emotional relevance and loyalty.”
These are just two examples to leveraging (and impacting) your company’s marketing and human resources efforts…or in a different light…your human and financial capital.
The UK-based Charities Aid Foundation, states it quite clearly, a successful community investment program can build partnerships with mutual benefit to your company and society; boost staff morale and company loyalty; develop your employees’ skills; enhance your company’s image and reputation; and, influence how government and local bodies see your organization.
Whether in difficult or strong economic climates, leaders in both the corporate and non-profit sectors need to continually look at opportunities for growth. When these leaders realize the strength and potential for excellence created through synergistic partnerships, everyone wins…the corporation; the community organization; and most of all, the community.