As passionate philanthropists, Carrie Schochet and I founded Purple Squirrel Advisors to focus our philanthropic and recruiting efforts on helping the economic growth in the great state of Michigan.
Since then, we’ve been honored to work along side many business men and women who are finding ways to give back to the community through groups such as 100 Women Who Care, Power Company Kids, and 100 Businesses Who Care.
These leaders are making a huge impact in their communities and many have found big ways to incorporate philanthropy into their business.
While some companies we’ve worked with provide paid time off for volunteer work or match employee donations, other leadership teams have found other ways to ingrain philanthropy into their day-to-day operations.
Zingerman’s in Ann Arbor has even gone so far as to incorporating philanthropy into the company’s guiding principles. The team is finding new ways to give back by “[making] substantial and significant contributions in order to strengthen the health, social, educational, and cultural fabric of [its] community.”
On a global scale, retailers such as Toms and Warby Parker are finding success by taking a social enterprise approach to their overall strategy. By driving philanthropy with their one-for-one approach, employees are able to make an impact just by doing their job every day. As a bonus, this approach is also empowering consumers to give back simply by purchasing new shoes or glasses for themselves.
Regardless of the approach, companies are embracing philanthropy by empowering their employees from the top down, encouraging everyone from senior executives to new hires to get involved.
Here are some additional benefits that many companies are seeing:
Teamwork and Culture
Not only does incorporating philanthropy into your business help give back to the community, but it also can help develop strong character traits in your employees while promoting teamwork and unity among your staff.
Organizations such as Habitat for Humanity provide opportunities for companies to bring a team out to help build safe, affordable housing in their local areas.
This type of program provides employees with the opportunity to work together for a larger cause. Although one employee may spend the day hammering while a second worker paints, at the end of the experience each person can see how they worked together to accomplish the larger goal of building a house.
These activities can decrease inter-office conflict and help break down the walls of the office hierarchy. Many participants have noticed better communication between employees who are on different levels in the company or haven’t had an opportunity to work together in the past by allowing them to work side-by-side throughout the day.
Millennial and Employee Engagement
While increased communication among staffers is beneficial, offering philanthropic incentives at work shows an increase in employee engagement. In fact, studies show that increasing employee engagement through philanthropic activities can help reduce turnover, which can save you the time and cost of hiring a new employee if your team struggles with a high churn rate. This statistic will especially ring true in the upcoming years as millennials become a larger part of the workforce.
Members of the millennial generation, which is expected to become over 50% of the workforce by 2020, are always on the lookout for more engaging and purpose driven career paths. In fact, 60% of millennials currently in jobs have said they are open to new job opportunities. That’s why engaging employees through a more purpose driven approach can provide your employees with the fulfillment they need to stay at your company longer.
Even for generations other than millennials, research shows that employees prefer to work for companies invested in charitable causes. Habitat for Humanity markets themselves as a company who provides volunteer opportunities for these employees with relatively low investment to the employer.
By offering these organized opportunities for your employees to give back, you’re not only giving back to your local community but also providing your team with the philanthropic fulfillment they need and desire.
Network & Partnerships
Joining organizations that provide a networking aspect to philanthropy is a great way to mix business and philanthropy. Groups such as Southeast Michigan’s 100 Businesses Who Care, which is launching its inaugural meeting in Troy, Michigan on Wednesday, February 15, 2017 brings together 100 business leaders for a morning of networking and a “Shark Tank” style hour of pitching local non-profits to be considered for donations. At the end of their bi-annual meetings, each business member writes a check for $500, providing the selected non-profit with a total donation of $50,000 (assuming 100 members) so it can continue to make a difference in the community.
Not only does this type of business model provide companies with a way to contribute to a great cause by contributing a few hours and $500 bi-annually, but it also encourages networking among like-minded individuals who may be able to work together on a professional level.
As the co-founders of 100 Businesses Who Care, we set out on a mission to prove how powerful it is for business leaders to partner with like-minded executives, both in and out of the office.
Regardless of the additional benefits, incorporating philanthropy into the mission of your business empowers your company and employees to be a part of a larger cause.
At Purple Squirrel Advisors, we’ve built our business on philanthropic values and are deeply passionate about giving back to our local community in Southeast Michigan. That’s why we’ve been working hard to launch 100 Businesses Who Care and want to invite you to take the first step experiencing how powerful it is to combine business and philanthropy by attending our inaugural meeting on February 15th from 7:30-9:30am at the Troy Community Center.
We’re excited to not only help companies in Southeast Michigan incorporate philanthropy in their mission but also to work together to donate $50,000 to local causes twice each year.
As one of our favorite quotes says, “Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy. You vote in elections once a year, but when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in.”
We hope to see you on February 15th!