Here at ECi Software Solutions, we live by the CODE! CODE stands for Crave Greatness, Own the Outcome, Deliver Awesome, and Embrace Community.
In living by the CODE, we seek to improve the quality of our team, our community, and our lives. The focus of this article is on how businesses can “embrace community” through support of local nonprofits. For those considering getting your business more active in your community, or meaningfully impacting your company’s culture, here are some key questions I will address:
- Why is it important for a business to embrace its community?
- How can a company make an impact in its community, and in people’s lives?
- Why is it in the best interest of a company to lend support to nonprofits and establish itself as a part of its community?
First, let’s define community for the sake of mutual understanding. It has two relevant definitions for today’s discussion:
- A group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common.
- A feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.
Determining which nonprofits to support
In order to decide which nonprofits you could impact, think about what your group is passionate about—community health, hunger, animals, seniors, children, the homeless, education, the environment. Then assess your group’s collective skills, including sports, gardening, social media, marketing, bookkeeping, construction, etc. If you are able to identify what your group cares most about and your skills, then you will be one step closer to finding a a cause and corresponding nonprofit to support.
A great resource to help you identify a cause that you could passionately support is VolunteerMatch.org. This organization itself is a nonprofit that believes in the power of volunteering to enrich our lives and the world around us. On the volunteermatch.org website, you can filter volunteer opportunities by location, event date, and cause areas.
The cause areas on the site are diverse. They include Children & Youth, Arts & Culture, Community Health, Seniors, Environment, and many more. Regardless of your group’s passions, finding a compatible cause area is easy. Depending on your local community, you may have over 20 cause areas to help narrow your search for a nonprofit to support.
Building your employee volunteer program
Once you have found a nonprofit opportunity of interest, I strongly suggest reading the organization’s mission statement to be sure it aligns with your company goals. VolunteerMatch is a great resource for companies who have (or would like to establish) an Employee Volunteer Program (EVP).
Your EVP is a key aspect of your company’s culture; it is a source of identity and belonging, both for employees within your organization and for your organization within your local community. By creating an EVP, your company will be able to embrace the community as a way of expressing gratitude for its employee base, local infrastructure, and the values of area residents that make it possible for your business to flourish. Your employees will grow personally from the experience of having made a positive difference in people’s lives. In return, the community will embrace your company, opening more opportunities in hiring and conducting business that are essential to your long-term future.
Just as important, the EVP and the nonprofits it supports will also give your employees opportunities to work together toward a common heartfelt cause. This enables employees at all levels of your organization—many of whom never work with one another--to build team unity, experience camaraderie, and enjoy a sense of shared accomplishment. In other words, supporting nonprofits together gives coworkers an essential sense of community at work (see definition #2 above). This feeling improves the employee experience and drives engagement and retention.
Working well together
Supporting nonprofits as a group also gives workers an invaluable opportunity to appreciate one another as individuals. The experiences employees share enable them to form meaningful personal and professional connections. Ultimately, a workforce that gives together bonds together and works well together. This is why it is absolutely in every company’s best interest, regardless of size or resources, to embrace community through supporting nonprofits.
Convinced that supporting nonprofits can impact your community and improve your company culture? The first step you can take is to find an organization on VolunteerMatch.org with a mission statement that resonates with your company’s values. Then reach out to the nonprofit directly. Nonprofits are always looking for volunteers who are willing to share their skill sets. Your company’s involvement will create an all-around win for everyone involved in your workplace and in your community.
Don't miss out!
Stay on top of the latest business acumen by subscribing to the Big Ideas for SMBs blog.