Realizing the Benefits of Giving Back

While companies and consumers have been focused on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, there is another campaign that often gets less attention, Giving Tuesday. Giving back can mean many different things. Whether we contribute our money, time or energy to a cause or organization we believe in, the result is untold positive benefits to those we help and to our own perception of ourselves.

Companies around the country have been recognizing in greater numbers that not only does empowering employees to give back raise morale and company pride, but it also magnifies brand recognition, solidifies a positive corporate culture and helps to attract and retain clients and talent. Companies that have adopted Corporate Social Responsibility policies have witnessed first-hand the benefits of giving back and formalizing this culture in their organization.

At Truscott Rossman, each employee is offered and encouraged to give $250 to a cause or organization of our choosing each year. TR generously supports our time each year for activities like Women Build for Habitat for Humanity, among others, and we serve on numerous volunteer boards for organizations across the state. In fact, our co-founder and principal, John Truscott, serves on the Michigan Community Service Commission, an entity tasked with finding ways to empower volunteers to strengthen communities and address some of the most challenging issues we face in the state.

These policies also make business sense – according to a study by Cone Communications on Corporate Social Responsibility, 87 percent of consumers said they would be more likely to purchase from a company that was supportive of a cause they believed in. On the flip side of this, and where companies should be cautious, is that 75 percent of those surveyed said they would refuse to do business with a company that supported an issue contrary to their beliefs.

The same study found that “70 percent of Americans believe companies have an obligation to take actions to improve issues that may not be relevant to their everyday business.”[1] As more and more companies adopt policies that involve giving back, those that don’t proactively pursue these policies stand to be left behind or miss an important opportunity for their brand to stand out.

So, what does that mean from a public relations standpoint, and how when you’re trying to give back to the community can you message on that fact without overtly looking for recognition, something that stirs the opposite in public sentiment? Establish the right policies and encourage this positive culture of giving back and the rest will fall in to place. Opportunities to expound upon the positive direction of your organization will arise organically.

Word of mouth is still the best form of advertising, and that doesn’t just apply to increasing sales or your client base. In an increasingly competitive labor market, attracting and retaining top notch talent is a must for long-term competitiveness and viability. More and more young professionals are looking for a place to work that has values they align with and that contributes to the good of their local communities. According to Horizon Media’s Finger on the Pulse study, 81 percent of millennials want companies to be good corporate citizens.[2] Two thirds of them use social media to engage around Corporate Social Responsibility policies and activities, or campaigns their companies are involved in.

Many times, the challenges our communities face are challenges because of a lack of resources or public will to fix them. Companies, large and small, can make a world of difference with even just a small investment of time. These actions pay dividends, in improved employee passion and engagement, more social conversations about your organization and an increased willingness by earned media and others to give you the benefit of the doubt. But let’s not forget the real reason this is important, we all want to improve the places where we work, live and play and make the lives of our friends, family and neighbors better in the process.