In the movie, the Wizard of Oz stumbles over pronouncing the word “philanthropists,” finally giving up and referring to them as just “good deed doers.” Philanthropists have big hearts, and the nature of philanthropy itself can help you continue to build a positive work culture. Just as going to a concert or sporting event energizes the crowd with a unifying focus, so can philanthropy.
Although companies can write big checks, rank-and-file employees may not be able to be big donors. They still want to — and can — participate in meaningful ways. For both the newest hire and seasoned veteran, tasks such as serving food at a shelter or spreading mulch throughout a garden bed at a park can level the playing field while benefiting others. This is especially true when all participants wear the same company philanthropy shirt versus being dressed for their regular roles. When you see your fellow associate attired the same way, doing the same new task as you are, barriers are cast away, conversations ensue, bonding occurs, and he’s no longer just the quiet IT guy from down the hall. Associates will unite in promoting and demonstrating your company’s philanthropic support.
The financial entry point can be a win-win. Associates can pay a nominal amount to be donated to charity in order to wear jeans, their favorite T-shirt or sports team gear to the office. Or, they can make a donation to a designated cause to bring their dog to the office on a specific day. Perhaps a team of associates could voluntarily go to shelters to walk and socialize pets waiting for adoption into new homes.
Philanthropies needing assistance represent a variety of interests, such as building a Habitat for Humanity home or volunteering at your local Ronald McDonald House or children’s hospital. Helping adults with developmental differences can demonstrate to volunteers that marvelous minds and a sense of wonder definitely exist in those needing more assistance than the average person.
While your employees are volunteering in the community, they may discover a new creative or volunteer outlet while they are performing their good works in your company’s name. You can also provide employees with a day off with pay to volunteer on a periodic basis. Making donations of time and money to the organizations your employees volunteer for recognizes their choices as individuals and benefits organizations in need.
Today, a company with a conscience means more to job seekers and those already part of your team than it once did. While the pandemic made us reliant upon seemingly endless home deliveries, it also made us return to what we really value: connection with others. By making philanthropy part of your company’s moral fiber, you’ll bring employees together and connect them to their community and the entity they are serving in a volunteer capacity. People want to work for a company that cares.
The Wizard of Oz tells the Tin Man about philanthropists, “ … and their hearts are no bigger than yours.” Philanthropy can occur at every level. When you open your corporate heart to others by involving your associates in doing something for others, it will elevate your corporate culture and your community caring profile. It will remind your associates that a company that cares about others also cares about them, too. ●
Michele Cuthbert is CEO and creator at Baker Creative