By Josh McDonald, Project Manager with Nexus 5 Group
I believe most companies and people enjoy being able to give to local organizations for the right reasons. It feels good to give. It makes a difference. It can also create a potential conflict of the heart.
What is at the root of our giving?
Why are we giving of our time, finances, or other resources? Have we positioned ourselves to give selflessly, or are we just checking the box to feel we've done our part? Does that make it easier to pat ourselves on the back and return to our normal lives?
I think companies can fall into the same trap. Companies display their generosity to the community through giving to local charities and organizations. Some companies do it to look good to the outside world, others for tax credits, some for the direct impact on lives in their community, and some companies truly believe in the mission.
We could probably make a page-long list of reasons companies give to organizations that are doing good for our communities. I hope that most do it out of generosity and empathy. And that they understand most of us are extremely fortunate... and none of us are immune to the circumstances of life.
A company giving of resources is needed and appreciated by these external organizations. However, gifts of time or finances are not going to sustain these organizations alone. They need grass roots involvement from the community. They need you and I to partner with their causes outside of the workplace. They need us to be vested in their mission, goals, and direction. They need us, as individuals and families, to engage and connect to the value they bring to our community. This must take place outside of the walls of the office or fences of the jobsite. A check or single day of volunteering may provide for an immediate need, but that won't sustain these organizations for the long term.
Supporting our community takes ongoing personal commitment and accountability.
Where does this leave us as a for-profit businesses? It's easy to write a check. It involves little effort, accountability, or vested interest. It's not too difficult to allow team members the opportunity to volunteer for a day. It is difficult however to cultivate a system that encourages and develops others to personally invest in opportunities that directly impact the communities in which they live and work. This has been the rub for me for many years within the corporate world.
Are we, as businesses, doing enough?
Maybe we are. Maybe not. Where is the line? How do you measure it? For each of us, that line may be drawn in a different place. You know what? That's okay. You can only engage as far as your heart and beliefs are invested.
So, what do we do? I’m not sure there is a one-size-fits-all road map. I’m on the same road as you. I’m trying to figure it out personally as well. One of the core values of Nexus 5 Group is “Community Impact” and we are still trying to figure this whole thing out. We are in this together.
This whole community impact approach through a lens of personal responsibility intrigued me. So, I sent a short survey around the office this month. I didn’t know what to expect but the results were fascinating.
The following results were compiled from 25 responses.
76% of team members say they currently have “direct impact” with a community organization through giving of time or finances.
40% have “direct impact” with 3 or more organizations.
28% of team members serve on a board of directors at a non-profit/community impact organization.
Team members fill 11 board of directors positions.
52% of team members said they wish they could give more time to local organizations.
The exciting thing about these responses showed a good foundation and opportunity for Nexus 5 Group to continue developing ways to impact our community. How do we do this? We engage with our own team!
I believe the following 4 guidelines will help direct us where we need to go.
Be Intentional - intentionality clarifies priorities, priorities elevate value, value feeds belief, and belief creates personal connection.
Set the Standard - culture has to start at the top and must be done as a team.
Teach Responsibility - it is our community, take ownership.
Teach Empathy - connecting on personal levels makes the difference.
Bonus points: Every one of these guidelines followed will teach your team to connect and communicate with clients in more transparent, relational, and deeper ways.
Let’s facilitate opportunities for our teams to impact their communities in more personal ways. This is how we make a sustainable impact on our community. It all boils down to personal engagement. What if we could develop sustainable community impact practices as well as we develop sustainable business practices?