Boosting Charities Is More Than a Bottom-Line Concern

By Mike Maddox

Beyond the benefits that accrue to a company, there’s one compelling reason to embrace philanthropy—it’s the right thing to do.

We can all agree the way we did business 20, 10, even five years ago, has changed.

No matter the industry, products and services have evolved, technology has vastly improved, and above all, customer expectations have risen. It’s not enough just to pay for a product or service; consumers are demanding more from the companies with whom they do business.

In fact, in a recent study by Cone Communications, 91 percent of global consumers said they are likely to switch brands to one associated with a good cause, given comparable price and quality.
In a similar study by Nielsen, 50 percent of global consumers
said they would be willing to reward companies that give back to society by paying more for their goods and services.

What do these statistics mean for you and me? The consensus is clear: Our clients want to know we care—about them personally, and also about the communities in which they live.

Whether you’re just starting a corporate giving program or looking to expand your support, here’s why we feel giving back is not only important to the community but absolutely paramount to your company’s success:

It’s the Right Thing to Do. I’m sure we can agree on this one: As individuals and as companies, we all have an inherent responsibility to support charitable organizations that make a difference in the community. Giving a hand up and helping your neighbors is the right thing to do. Period. It also feels amazing.

Recruit and Retain Employees. Why not share that amazing feeling with your staff? Prospective employees, especially Millennials, are looking for employers with philanthropic values and a well-thought out corporate giving plan that encourages—and rewards employees for— volunteer work. Sometimes, what
a company stands for—and its view on social responsibility—
can be more important than the exact numbers on a paycheck.

At the same time, your existing employees will be happier, more invested and work better as a team when they are united in giving back to the community. Encourage staff to volunteer for causes that matter to them personally—even when those volunteer hours are on the clock. And, from a leadership role, do your best to support causes that matter most to your employees and their families.

Build Brand Awareness. As a corporate sponsor of events
like Treads & Threads and the recent First Downs for Down Syndrome Golf Tournament, we were able to personify our brand values of character, connection and commitment to important causes—all while raising awareness of our company. Charitable giving is a great way to boost your company’s profile in the community. And you don’t always have to write a big check to make a big impact. Remember to ask charity partners for sponsorship perks like featuring your company’s name on marketing materials, advertisements, signage and more. Offer up leaders of your company as honorary chairs of events. Often, these chairs are featured in the media for their good deeds. No sponsorship budget? Don’t despair; you can still donate in-kind products or services and your time as a volunteer. Charities always say they appreciate your time, talent and treasure, so figure out what you can give, and give it.

Develop New Relationships. Deepen Existing Ones. There’s no better way to meet other corporate leaders, elected officials and potential clients than by going into the community and giving back. The relationships formed while volunteering on charitable boards or—better yet—pitching in to build homes, stock food pantries or serve meals can’t be quantified. By choosing charities that have special meaning to you as an individual or to your company, you’ll meet community leaders who share your passions and values—a win for everyone.

Boost Your Bottom Line. While charitable giving is the right thing to do, it’s also good for business. A strong, healthy and educated community is able to spend more money on products and services, and in our case, start companies that may need a loan and long-term banking advice. It all comes full circle. In addition to those you’re able to help, your bottom line will thank you as well.

About the author

Mike Maddox is President and CEO of CrossFirst Bank in Leawood, Kan.