Posted on July 29, 2014 · Posted in Leadership

It is said that charity starts at home, although it could make a triumphant entrance in the work place too.

Being a charitable and conscientious leader will help you gain respect from your colleagues, your professional peers and beyond. By setting a good example and leading your business down the right path in terms of your business’ social, political and environmental statement, a plethora of positive opportunities will become obtainable to you and your business. Corporate charitable contributions can prove to be beneficial in ways you had never imagined- both psychologically and economically. In effect, more and more businesses have begun to see the benefits of partnering with local and national charities and causes. 58% of people surveyed across 130 companies said that they place greater emphasis on cross-sector partnering than they have in the past, and the process has moved up considerably on the business agenda. Not only does it provide great marketing and networking opportunities, but supporting a worthy cause can boost office morale and benefit the wider community as well.

Considering the advantages of such contributions, the tendency for UK businesses to donate to charities is surprisingly low. Business support from UK charities and communities is estimated at between £700-£800m per year. This figure represents around 2% of UK charities’ income, compared to 43% contributed by individuals, and 37% from statutory sources. Helping to boost this figure in any shape or form, and point out the need for business support could open up your employee’s eyes to the situation at hand, and in effect, if you do get your business involved, or involved personally you could be a source of inspiration in the office.

Firstly, it’s imperative to choose to support a cause which is of industry relevance as well as relevance to the community’s needs. Your philanthropic efforts should resonate with your target audience as well as attempt to match your company’s mission statement as much as it can. Enhance your goals, don’t create new ones. Some of the most admired and suited partnerships in the past have been M&S and Oxfam, with their clothes exchange and P&G and UNICEF, with their “1 Pack = 1 Vaccine” campaign. Smaller businesses also support various causes which reflect their essential purpose as a company. For example, independent UK based wealth management firm, Ramsey Crookall have a number of staff and directors acting as trustees and directors of charities, in attempt to demonstrate their ultimate responsibility as shareholders- to add value to business operations. The firm have supported causes such as the British Heart Foundation, St John’s Ambulance, and the Princess Diana Care at Home Trust in the past year alone.

Great exposure for your business can be achieved by supporting a worthy cause within your local community. For example, a sporting event to raise money for the local hospital could be an incredible opportunity to get your business’ name out there into the wider community. Company t-shirts for the teams competing or merchandise of a similar kind could be a cost effective way to market your business while simultaneously supporting a local cause. Even sponsoring a local sports

team is a useful way to funnel marketing money. What is more, getting involved in a charitable function such as this could increase your credibility as a company and enhance your customer appeal. Local visibility in the community could lead to even wider visibility within the city or county, depending on the size and budget of your company.

Events like these can also be great networking opportunities. The chance to bring your business away from the confines of office and highlight the goods or services you provide could be highly beneficial for your business; especially if you decide to support a cause which matches your company’s mission statement. Events to raise money for the chosen charity will most likely attract other businesses or groups with similar intentions. You could even reach out to them as a company, in attempt to get more like-minded companies together, and you could make contacts that way. The opportunity for your staff to meet similar-minded people will be beneficial to your business and the wellbeing of your colleagues. It would undoubtedly be well received if you introduce your staff to some potential friends, and business contacts.

From a leader’s perspective, working with charities can help companies to stand out as contributors to society, and to the economy, as well as providing opportunities for personal development and team building. What is more, having your employees getting actively involved in the cause your business supports will improve their understanding of social and environmental issues. Having first-hand involvement in the issues you support could be fundamentally beneficial to everyone involved, from a financial perspective as well as a HR one. Supporting a cause can help make a positive difference to the communities your workforce is a part of.

Getting hands-on with the cause your company supports can be very satisfying, especially if money is making a considerable difference to the cause. Observing a positive change can boost office morale and elevate your respect as a leader, as a result of your responsibility of the organising the involvement in event. Of course, it is important to make the involvement in such events voluntary, as forcing an un-work related obligation will not be respected at all. Describe the event as an enjoyable and beneficial activity to be a part of, and consider offering those who take part in the event a small perk, such as a free product or an extra afternoon off, which will help boost your manager credibility as well. Rather than just writing checks or donating food to good causes, managers worldwide are becoming a force for positive change while enhancing long-term competitiveness.

A true leader wouldn’t just force their staff to donate to charity, but they could encourage them to get to the bare bones of the cause and get truly immersed in it. True passion can be contagious and admirable, so if there is a certain charity you feel personally connected to, don’t be afraid to show it.

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