Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has become a hot topic in recent years, and the benefits are obvious for the charities and groups that are supported. But what are the benefits for the companies that get involved with causes in their communities? Whether financial, in-kind or simply gifting your time, supporting your local community provides multi-faceted benefits.
Companies often adopt a “survival of the fittest” approach, where competition is steep, margins are slim, and it may feel like there is little time or money to spare for charity. But many experts say that giving back to the local community may be one of the smartest decisions a company can make. A 2018 study found that 89% of Americans said they were willing to switch to brands that support a cause, and over 70% said they prefer to work with companies that address social issues.
Charity isn’t a one-way street. Acts of kindness toward your local community not only benefit communities in need, but also cultivates gratifying and fruitful opportunities for your business.
Supporting your local community provides your neighbors with resources that can improve their well-being. This can help a neighborhood thrive, small businesses to flourish and give residents the ability to contribute to the local economy.
Donating time and money to your community is also an excellent public relations tool. While this is an important advantage of any public-facing CSR initiative, it’s important to market your involvement in ways that don’t make your efforts seem too self-serving. Entrepreneur magazine published an article about intelligent charity-based marketing.
Getting to know charity leaders in your community can help build powerful networking connections and advocates for your business. But most importantly, giving back can make you and your employees feel good by working directly with their communities, and improving employee morale also improves the work environment.
Corporate philanthropy often takes the form of monetary donations to larger humanitarian organizations, but smaller businesses can choose to support their local communities. This allows modestly sized businesses to stand out as big fish in smaller ponds and enable them to make a difference regionally (and where they can truly see the impacts of their generosity).
Some examples of community philanthropy include donating to local charities with in-kind donations or buying or sharing equipment. Companies with equipment like vehicles, sound set-ups, etc., can even let worthy causes “borrow” from them when the materials are not otherwise in use. Or they can allow charitable groups to use their property or premises for events and meetings.
Many companies offer volunteer programs through your workplace. Paying staff to work part-time to support worthy causes or events increases participation, and even one day a month or a quarter can make a real impact in the community. Traditional volunteer services like soup kitchens, as well as park/building restoration projects, can double as great team-building opportunities.
Donations of expertise and knowledge can make a big difference by offering free seminars for business and community members or teaching at community centers. Sponsorship of sporting events and relief efforts such as community food drives during holidays are other great ways to get involved.
Take some time to consider what’s most needed in your community, what would make the biggest difference, and what best aligns with your values. See this Forbes article with more ideas for small businesses to give back.
Muna Reber, CB&T Vice President and Oakland Branch Manager
California Bank & Trust has worked to employ corporate social responsibility by helping minority business owners and low- and moderate- income individuals. With a formalized volunteerism program for nearly a decade, CB&T has recorded more than 1500 volunteer hours to 130 unique nonprofit and community organizations.
Most recently, CB&T sponsored a job fair, in conjunction with the non-profit group Love Never Fails for vulnerable community members, including women victimized by trafficking. Prospective employers attended, sponsors gave out items to assist with interviews and bank employees donated work attire.
“We received clothing donations from branches all over the state,” said Muna Reber, CB&T Vice President and Oakland Branch Manager, “We wanted to provide not only things to better their lives now, but information and education to achieve financial independence for the future.”
California Bank & Trust strongly believes that women and minority-owned businesses are vital to our economy and provide an engine of job creation in our communities. To learn more about some of our support efforts, click here.
Your business can become a cornerstone of grassroots support. Connect locally by being socially responsible and reap the rewards of fostering growth for your community and your business at the same time. [cite::171::cite][cite::172::cite]