Writing a check is nice, but it doesn't mean you're making an impact.
You started 2019 with big goals and great intentions to do more good. Then life happened. Projects piled up, investor demands took precedence, and your travel schedule left you 30,000 feet in the air every other week. Unfortunately, giving back just fell further and further down the list of priorities.
We all have the best intentions to create businesses that have a strong social conscience. Falling off track has nothing to do with not caring enough. For many, these initiatives are still incredibly important, but so is keeping their company afloat.
However, creating a company that’s closely tied with giving back will create a more profitable business for a number of reasons. Not only does it feel good for the soul, but it builds loyalty and retention.
Social conscious organizations give their employees a greater purpose that goes beyond clocking in and clocking out. That’s why ‘leading with purpose’ and a ‘values-driven business model’ are often ways for businesses to attract talent.
But don’t just talk the talk. Put those words into action. I know how busy work life can get, so here are 5 ways to get back on track to developing a socially conscious company.
1. Give it ownership.
Social initiatives are often delegated to supportive roles like the Human Resources Coordinator or Executive Assistant. In other words, you’re piling it on to an already full plate. Inundated with tasks, it falls further and further on their priority list.
In addition, no one is keeping them accountable. Leaders need to be even more committed to these types of initiatives. That means following up; who needs to do what to make sure social impact plans are moving forward?
There are typically two ways to go about this. One is to hire someone solely in charge of community and giving back, giving this their full, undivided attention. If your company is on a smaller scale, carve it into another person’s role by taking off other responsibilities so they have enough time to execute the strategy effectively.
2. Actually care.
It’s great that you’ve sponsored a little league team or built a playground for the local community, but anyone can donate money. While no doubt admirable, it will do little for your organization if you don’t feel connected to the cause in some way. Otherwise, you’re more likely to let it slide.
One of the ways I ensure my staff feels involved in our social impact goals is by holding a meeting every quarter, where I simply ask them what initiatives they’d like to be apart of. This doesn’t always include money. A lot of great charities rely on volunteers to run on a daily basis.
By letting your team decide how, why and when your company can give back, you’ll be building the corporate culture (and your karma) all at the same time.
3. Make it complimentary.
Giving back doesn’t have to be complicated. Choose a cause that already aligns with your products or services. Use your great network, supply chain and people who can effortlessly execute what you do day in and day out to help others.
For example, if you specialize in apparel, allocate all extra stock to your local shelter or Dress for Success branch. If you offer web design services, consider offering budding entrepreneurs or non-profits complimentary services to revamp their online profile.
4. Make it public.
Nothing will make you more accountable than your customers. Once you announce your social initiatives, you’re much more inclined to follow through. Publish it on your company blog, add it to your newsletters, and address it at your next company retreat.
5. Know your numbers.
Get to know your numbers. What percent of profits have you donated? How many hours has your team contributed? What’s the total amount of financial aid you’ve given? Keep track of what you’ve done so you always have new benchmarks to work off of.