Written by Katy Goshtasbi
Posted on: April 20, 2022
Fifteen years ago, when I was an employee in corporate America, we didn’t understand what community service really meant- for our company or for our community.
I remember being offered the opportunity to run in the Lawyers Have Heart, Georgetown 10K race sponsored by the American Heart Association. I had no notion of what heart disease was about nor why, as lawyers in my law firm, we would want to support the cure for it. All I remember was signing up because I needed the exercise and I liked running through Georgetown. Oh, and there was a big party promised at the finish line. Sign me up! It sounded like fun.
Fast forward all these years and now as a change and branding expert and consultant, I really value community service platform building in my client organizations- for all the right reasons.
Done right, community service platform building by a company is a very powerful tool.
Here are three main results your company derives from having a strong community service platform:
1. It generates goodwill through the local community for your corporate brand– when I build community service platforms for corporate clients, it is with the intentional plan of doing so to increase their brand goodwill and resonance within their community. Like attracts like. If your organization is on a mission to do good, you will gather attention among community members who share your altruistic mission. These same community members who now have affinity for you are also your biggest fan and potential buyers who emotionally resonate with your brand and have high recall for your brand the next time it comes top of mind. They will associate your corporate brand with a positive emotion (i.e., helping the community). That’s all you need to grow and generate more revenues.
2. It helps grow culture internally amongst employees who are now on a shared mission to do good- Everyone wants to do good deep down. Employees would really love it if they worked for an organization that did good, too. Getting a paycheck from a company that shares your innate values and sense of community motivates employees to show up every day and do their job to the best of their abilities. The results are amazing: attrition rates go down, morale is high, employees share their love of working at your organization and thus, organically increase brand awareness. Revenues grow.
3. It helps the community– this is the obvious goal that should be your company focus and only focus. If your company is not in it for the right reasons, the brand suffers even more. Genuine brands win. The other two results discussed here are strong derivative byproducts. You can call it Karma if that works for you. Let’s just say doing good has its own rewards.
Most corporations are waking up to the necessity and value of community service. That’s fantastic and I applaud them all for doing so. It’s a great start.
Yet, I find that the approach most corporations are taking could be streamlined and made easier and therefore, more productive.
What do we do next? Here are my recommended next steps to success in community service platform building:
1. Ten thousand feet approach – many corporations take the same approach to community service building as they do to running the business. They assign this very important task to a committee of interested employees, which is great. But leadership gives the employees no direction. Leadership just feels like it’s good enough to have the group exist. Wrong. What needs to happen is that you have to step back and look at it from a big picture perspective: a) what is the mission and vision and values of your organization? b) how does your community service activities fit within this mission and vision? c) write your community service mission and vision based on this.
2. Poll your employee pool – if community service is to lead to the results I describe above, every employee must give their input and express their community service desires.
3. Deliberate Plan – you next must take what you developed in the first step and write a deliberate plan of action including: a) where do you want to do outreach in the community b) why? c) how often d) how will this be messaged out to resonate the brand value of the organization in keeping with results #1 and #2 above? This item requires you to not think small. For example, don’t invite a massage therapist to come and talk to your community service group about the benefits of massage and what you can do with it in the community. That’s not outreach. That’s allowing someone to come into your organization and sell to you directly. It’s essentially an infomercial.
Above all else, remember community service building is a long-term plan and not so easy to do well. You must be patient and willing to get creative and be curious and courageous. You must also be willing to ask for support from experts.
As an expert in this area, I’m always ready to lend you my expertise and support to guide you in developing the right community service platform to reach the results listed above.
Got questions? Got feedback? Want support? Email me at Katy@purisconsulting.com.