We all want to contribute. We know that our world feels more full when we are giving back to those who need it most. But it’s not a matter of if we should, it’s a matter of how we can. Some of us have the desire to be entrepreneurs, others want to be artists. Some of us so desperately want to create organizations, products, or ideas that have a sole purpose to help those in need. Others of us aren’t really there yet. Either way, it’s okay.
There’s no right way to have a social impact, there isn’t even one answer.
It’s natural that we want to be successful. That we have the drive to work tirelessly to build an empire, yet enough compassion to want to throw it all away to help a child in need. The fight you’re feeling, the inner tension that you’re experiencing - the kind of “guilt” for not “doing more” - well, you’re not alone.
So, should we save the world or should we build an empire? The question is a tough one to answer, because both require you to leave a little something behind. Making money can mean playing by the rules of greedy corporate businesses, and making a social impact can entail not making very much money at all. Yet, every day we see the way our generation challenging that norm.
75% of millennials say they would take a pay cut to work for a socially responsible company.
In addition, 2/3 of people won’t even take a job if the company doesn’t have strong social responsibility. The biggest corporations are realizing this. The truth is, they want to hire and need to look desirable to the top candidates. Companies like Google, SalesForce and Nike have entire divisions dedicated to philanthropic work. Other businesses even offer paid time off for volunteer days . N on-profits aren’t the only ones who should be stepping up to give back. There are plenty of ways to prove that to your company that they should give the space, money, and resources to make it happen.
#1 Show your employers the benefits.
I’ve worked in sales a long time - long enough to realize that everything is sales. It’s a lot of figuring out what makes someone want to buy, and showing the benefits and value. You’ve got to show the value of philanthropic work to your company . Share the stats, which can be found in research studies all over the web . Facts like 83% of employees would be more loyal to firms that allow them to give back. Or that over 80% of people believe company-wide days of service or corporate-led activities are important.
This means their employees are more likely to become engaged in the company, and to stay at their current job. Beyond that, these employees are likely to be happier, which is proven to show an increase of 12% productivity at work ! Having a more socially and environmentally conscious company can save businesses money in the long run from losing less employees, create a better brand reputation, and have more productive employees.
#2 Look to existing programs for inspiration.
It’s no surprise that over half of the top 100 companies to work for offer paid time off to volunteer. Companies like Deloitte, Intuit, and VMWare are a few examples. Business can also offer corporate sponsored volunteer events. Coordinating opportunities for their employees to donate their time will make them feel proud to work somewhere that share their moral compass. Salesforce, NuStar Energy, Autodesk, and Ultimate Software are a few of many companies that give back to their communities by holding food bank volunteer days, charity walks, and mentorship programs.
Some companies even create their very own do-good programs. Clif Bar is a great example of a company that encourages employees to volunteer, donate, and feed the hungry through “Clif Corps”, an employee giving and engagement program. Additionally, The Boston Consulting Group gives high performing employees the opportunity to work on global impact projects through the “Social Impact Immersion Company”.
#3 Volunteer to create a committee.
Your company may be willing help employees volunteer on their behalf, but not on company time. This is only a small hurdle. What your company needs is a philanthropic spearhead. That’s where YOU come in. Let your company know that you’re willing to help coordinate a team of people to find a cause the employees are passionate about.
If your company is in the construction industry, you might want to reach out to Habitat for Humanity or Furnishing Hope for building projects. If you’re in the medical field, a non-profit such as the Red Cross or American Heart Association might be looking for volunteers for their events. You can link up with food banks, school drives, or even coordinate a philanthropy fair (which is exactly what I did at my company) to help connect employees with organizations they’re passionate about.
Giving back benefits all parties. We can let go of any tension when it comes to social responsibility or building our resume, because the two aren’t mutually exclusive. You deserve to have both if that’s what drives you. You’ll be happier and more fulfilled - something your company can only benefit from. Don’t be afraid to make the suggestion and run with it. Trust me, they’ll thank you later.
Photos by: Cacá Santoro