Why Corporate Philanthropy Matters.

By: Ben White

Author

Our Experience

Twenty of us stood in a large circle, the cold rain making it harder to discern tears from the storm that had been fast approaching. It was clear that we were experiencing an event that never truly leaves you. As our team handed over the keys of the newly built house to the family who would feel the impact of this gift for generations to come, I could not help but think this is not normal.

Let me back up just a bit.

In February, most of our company went to Ensenada, Mexico for our annual company meeting (Progress). Being a 100% remote company, Progress is essential to our organization. It’s the one time that we physically get together to celebrate what we have accomplished in the past year and look towards the future.

As an entirely mobile company, face time is at a premium.  However, this year, our CEO decided that our annual meeting would be in Mexico, building homes for the less fortunate. Titus has committed to using a portion of their profits to positively impact the communities around us, giving back and serving those in need. However, this was our largest “give back” to date.

Our trip in February was to build three homes for families who were in desperate need. My company partnered with YWAM (Youth With A Mission) and Homes of Hope to build homes for pre-selected families who had gone through their application process. After arriving, we split into three teams and, within 48 hours, we had all experienced a life-changing event.

In Mexico, I was experiencing a surreal moment that was anything but ordinary. Over the last two days, I saw the people I work with hammer nails, paint, laugh, smile, and cry, all while changing the lives of strangers.

I work for a company that is “different by design”. We have a culture where our company’s Lived Values direct what we do on a daily basis. Never did I think, however, how much we would live out our values during this Progress. The experience was powerful and life- changing, and I got it while on the job.

 Culture Impact

You can’t attend an HR conference without corporate culture being a central of focus. A recent post I read said that 47% of employees leaving their current company said culture was a significant influencer in that decision.

Creating a dynamic company culture to attract top talent is here to stay!

The perception your employees have about your company, and the way you treat them has an impact on the rate at which they stay at your organization. What if you could increase retention while providing your employees with the opportunity of giving back?

Ping pong tables and nap pods are nice to have. However, if you can figure out a way to effectively merge corporate responsibility with corporate culture, you have given your employees a company they can commit to, day in and day out.

Why does philanthropy matter to top talent?

With millenials making up 75% of the workforce by 2025, it’s critical to know what makes them tick.

According to a recent article:

  1. 83% of all millennials would be more loyal to a company that helps them contribute to social and environmental issues.
  2. 76% of all millennials consider a company’s social and environmental commitments when deciding where to work.

If you want to capture the hearts and minds of your people and create a company with strong values, a “giving attitude” in some capacity is a must.

 What can your company do?

Whether you’re a Fortune 500 or a small business of 10, you can provide employees with an opportunity to give back. While at Rockwell, we partnered with the United Way to take half a day and give back to the community. It only took half a day, but it still created memories and showed our employees that we were committed to our community and it’s people. Starting somewhere and providing an opportunity for philanthropy for your employees is most important.

When looking at options for giving back, every company should balance what is desired with what is feasible. Just remember, that top talent now factors corporate responsibility into their decision-making equation, so having a giveback program is not just a nice to have, it’s a must-have.

Looking Back

A month after this life-changing experience, I would say I am a different person. While I was not blind to the disparity between how I live and how others in the world do, it had never been personal before.

 Through this experience, have I changed as a leader?

It has long been my belief that if you don’t care about your people, you can’t effectively lead them. This opportunity let me see empathy demonstrated by people on my team, which led to a more meaningful connection.

There is a tremendous amount of value to haven taken a journey with someone and to grow collectively. Will, my team, be willing to push harder for me and, I fight more passionately for them? I would say yes.

Have my co-workers changed?

They were changed as much as I was. We were going on this journey to change the lives of the families in need, but somehow this journey changed us!

Also, I got the opportunity to know my coworkers differently. I got a more in-depth look into their heart, value system, and the way they were empowered by giving. This experience made us a better team.

As a people manager, there is so much value gained from this experience. You can hire your people and train them, but sometimes it can be challenging to have them connect at a higher level. After our experience with the families from Ensenada Mexico, our team has become better versions of ourselves and even more committed to our company and their vision for the future. If your company can do that for you by allowing you to be a part of giving back, it’s a win/win for everyone.

If you’re looking to create a strong philanthropy program in your organization, and you’d like some ideas from our team, connect with us!

 

 

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