I believe that we all have a moral obligation to give back with grace and without judgment. This is why it feels better to give than receive. In the words of Winston Churchill, “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”
In fact, scientific research provides compelling data to support the belief that giving is a powerful pathway to personal growth and lasting happiness.
The same concept can be applied within businesses. Are you a business leader considering investing your company’s time and money in a community cause? Some may argue it’s important to invest in your customers, partners, and employees—and this is true. Volunteerism and corporate philanthropy are sound business investments that achieve these goals by boosting employee morale, energizing and uniting your team, and increasing your company’s community involvement.
Perhaps you’ve heard this claim before, and you’re wondering what concrete benefits this truly provides for your company. At Ontario Systems—one of many participating organizations in this community—we have found that giving our employees the opportunity to serve local agencies creates an immediate impact in their lives and in the lives of others. This year, we are proudly a Pacesetter company for United Way of Delaware County. We are running our employee campaign early to support 29 local programs, served by 26 local organizations. Collectively, these agencies work to reduce youth illiteracy, with a bold goal of bringing all third graders up to Indiana state reading standards by 2024.
Empirical data suggests that the result of corporate volunteerism and philanthropy is incredibly concrete and significant. Michael Haberman, former president of PENCIL, wrote an excellent piece on how volunteer programs create better engagement between employees and the organizations they serve. They bolster recruiting efforts, accelerate associate performance, and build stronger relationships between company and customer. Specifically, the data addressed the following key points:
- Millennial employees who participate in a company’s volunteer program are twice as likely to rate their work culture as “very positive” over employees who do not participate.
- Companies with highly engaged employees achieved three times the operating margin and four times the earnings per share than operations with disengaged employees did.
- Employees using what they have learned at work in volunteer efforts are 142% more likely to develop new skills away from the office (True Impact report).
- 40% of a company’s reputation is determined by volunteering and corporate responsibility (Reputation Institute).
These statistics are certainly significant, but the true impact must be experienced firsthand. Community involvement isn’t about self-interest. It’s about serving others, making lives better, and helping those in need. Truly effective community programs aren’t motivated by statistics or profits, but by a caring nature or a need that must be addressed. We find those associates who care enough to volunteer or give are the very same people who make outstanding colleagues, serve our clients in extraordinarily creative ways, remain extremely conscientious about costs and processes, and are—frankly—fun to be around.
And to top it off? We find that associates who are proud of the company they work for find a little more meaning in their days spent at the office.
Whether it’s raising money for United Way, moving boxes at a local food bank, spending a week serving on a mission project, or building a house—the outcome is the same. Someone else is served, and the lives of those in need and those who volunteered are made better.
I hope that you, my fellow business leaders, will thoughtfully consider your participation as a Pacesetter for United Way of Delaware County’s 2017 Campaign, and other opportunities that encourage your employees to serve the community well. To learn more about the emphasis of this year's campaign and the difference your team can make, visit InvitedToLiveUnited.org/campaign.
UWDC 2017 Campaign Chair