Guest post provided by, Joshua Fadley.
Want to run a business that truly makes a difference? Then you have to ensure that your company culture focuses on making a difference. Last week we looked at a few of the reasons why we should incorporate a “giving strategy” in our business process, but it’s critical to also understand how to effectively implement “giving back.”
Here are some practical steps to grow your business through ongoing outreach efforts:
1. Build it into your strategy.
Every company, department, and even individual person, should have a strategy written down that incorporates key objectives and specific steps or tactics to reach those objectives, including measurable goals and dates. Your contributory efforts should be documented in that strategy, as well, and should be as cohesively integrated as your sales and marketing efforts.
2. Make it a part of the culture
How? Start it at the very beginning! We all look at giving back with the best of intentions, and then we get 3 years down the road and we’ve never actually helped anyone. Giving back should start at the very beginning. It has to. If it doesn’t get created as a habit at the beginning and become as strong of a part of the culture as checking email, Twitter, or Facebook, it will never happen.
3. Focus on your strengths – Be efficient!
Not all giving back has to be about going to impoverished areas and building houses. So what can you do? Anything that is in line with your strengths and the strengths of your company. If you build websites, offer to create/improve websites for underfunded non-profits. There are so many people and organizations whose sole focus is on non-profit work that you can easily partner with one that is focused on the same area. This helps them, and it also makes it more efficient for you!
4. Market all of your activities
Just like you’d send out press releases for big deals or achievements in your core business operations, you should also market your benevolent activities. Now, this may seem like singing your own praises, but this is actually very important. First of all, when you advertise you’re trying to tell potential customers about your corporate culture and who you are as a group. If giving back is part of that, then it’s only right that you should include those activities in your message.
Also, marketing the work that you are doing can make it easier for you to continue that work in the future. Many times, the largest time use involved with giving back is figuring out how best to do it and connecting with those who are truly in need. By advertising the work you’re doing, it will be much easier to connect with people who need the type of help you’re offering, or connect with people who can point you in the right direction. In the end, an open dialogue with the public about all of your business’ activities is going to be mutually beneficial for all involved.
How has this worked for me?
Quite well actually. Not only does my business make giving a core part of its foundation and operating practice (Kidsconomy has a dedicated giving arm that all employees take part in called Real World Impact) but we focus on highlighting benevolent business practices in everything we produce, teach, or speak on.
This “Great Recession” has opened the door to change the status quo of how businesses operate. While we are still a consumer-based society, people are certainly being more judicious about where they’re spending their money, and seem to want to “like” the person or people they’re paying money to, beyond just liking the product. That being said, a great product and a great pitch is still the best way to make a sale and I doubt that will ever change. But it’s important to continue to refine your approach with customers, and incorporating a philosophy of giving into your corporate culture can certainly move you in a positive direction.
Joshua Fadley is a consultant to small and mid-sized companies, as well as founder of Kidsconomy – Business Kits for Kids (www.Kidsconomy.com) and Real World Impact (www.RealWorldImpact.org).