One of the nagging dilemmas for those in their twenties and thirties is how to give back to the community while at the same time pay off student loans, get a decent place to live, and save for an comfortable retirement. Most of us are not particularly wealthy at this fun and adventurous stage of our lives, which generally makes donating money more difficult than the average financially established person. It can also be hard finding the time to get involved with our hectic schedules and figure out how much to give. Many businesses have philanthropic programs however, which provide just what you’re looking for. More people are looking for these types of benefits when they job search and it makes you wonder does volunteering and charitable giving lead to happier employees and higher profits?
I found myself thinking about that question, oddly enough, when I was brushing my teeth one evening this week. I had just switched from Aquafresh toothpaste to Tom’s of Maine, which I’d been curious about forever and finally picked up at the store. So there I am standing in front of the sink trying out my new Tom’s toothpaste, which tastes fresh and minty btw, and I started reading the ingredients and labeling on the back of the tube.
Consumers Notice When Branding Around Giving Is Done Right
I found my eyes fixate on some facts Tom’s had printed on the toothpaste tube about their company which said, “5% (12 days) of employee time to volunteering. 10% of profits to human and environmental goodness.” Hey that’s pretty cool! Makes me wish I worked for a company like that, don’t you? Not only do Tom’s employees get to use work time to volunteer, the company also puts a share of their profits directly into the community. Twelve days to volunteer is a lot, that’s sweet!
I think it’s pure genius that Tom’s of Maine proudly displays these perks on its products. As soon as I read them, I felt good as a consumer for supporting their efforts with my purchase, and thinking how lucky their employees are. And that makes me want to continue buying their products. This is an excellent example of why branding is beneficial in business and can lead to higher profits.
Not All Corporate Volunteering Is Received Equally
While I think it’s great that some companies organize and offer volunteering events on weekends or evenings, a lot of employees don’t want to give up time away from their families and other obligations. So when businesses allow employees to use a set amount of work hours to volunteer at an organization of their choosing and go on a company volunteer outing during business hours, that changes everything! Who wouldn’t want to participate?! Probably just the Ebenezer Scrooge’s of the office who nobody wants to hang around in the first place.
Not every company can offer volunteer events during work hours due to service requirements and daily deliverables, but those who have the flexibility should really consider planning programs during business hours. Participation will be so much higher and employees will recognize that their company really does care about their involvement and making a difference in the community. When businesses share their own profits with others and offer up work hours for volunteer benefits, employees notice. Employees are happier when they work for companies that aren’t solely focused on making money. So if you’re a small business owner, look into adding volunteer benefits for your employees, they’ll thank you for it!
Positive Identities And Involvement Generate Momentum
Both consumers and employees want to identify with organizations that have a tight knit community and brands they can trust. Consistency and positive outreach in the community also creates stickiness and loyalty among workers and end users. This generates momentum that can spread across cities, states, even countries, and drive up profits. And this type of positive identity and community involvement can also reduce employee turnover.
When you are part of or actively involved with a charitable organization, you feed off your fellow participants’ enthusiasm and generosity. You tap into a virtuous cycle where if one member gives $5 dollars, you also want to give $5 dollars, as do other members. And if one person volunteers to help tutor someone in Mathematics, you ask yourself what subjects you are good at and offer your services as well. This momentum drives more people to work together and help ensure the continued survival of these programs. And this type of collaboration loops around and makes its way back into the office environment as well.
Employees who spend time together on corporate events get to know each other better, build relationships, and break down communication barriers. These actions increase efficiencies and synergies when they’re back on the job, which leads to happier workers and higher profits.
The Power Of Numbers Leads To Great Things
Another way to increase employee moral is through charitable giving. A few of the places I’ve worked at organized toy drives, canned and dry food collections, donation drives for Goodwill, and cash donations for natural disasters. Sometimes we’d have competitions between departments to see which group would have the highest participation to win prizes or free lunches. It was fun to participate, and always a plus when the company announced they would match our efforts.
By joining forces with your colleagues on charitable giving initiatives, you are able to pool your money together and amplify your giving to a particular individual or organization your group believes in. Suddenly, you aren’t giving just $5, but $500 or $5,000 as a group. This power of numbers makes you feel proud of your contribution towards the greater whole. I think it’s rewarding when you can see how each person giving a few dollars quickly adds up to a big pool of funds.
Giving doesn’t have to be tedious and there’s no shame in having a little joy in the process. The next time your personal funds are low, and you are feeling a little conflicted about giving what little money you have away, think about organizing a donation drive at your company and ask for corporate sponsorship. Leveraging each other’s resources makes a big difference, brings people together, and spreads a lot of joy in the process. Some corporations are just too lazy to organize events and donation drives on their own but are more than happy to offer their support if you just take the initiative and ask. You’ll be amazed at what your small contribution can do, if multiplied by enough people!
Corporations With Volunteering And Charitable Giving Benefits
There are a decent amount of companies out there who have desirable programs for volunteering and charitable giving, but a lot of them aren’t highlighted very often. Here are a few examples that you may not be aware of:
Tom’s of Maine – 12 work days for volunteering. 10% of profits to charitable giving. Partners with nonprofits to clean rivers and remove trash across the country, so far donated $1 million in funding to dental clinics and schools and distributed 1 million free tubes of toothpaste.
Microsoft – volunteer grants for employees, corporate matching on cash donations to schools and nonprofits, over $6.5 billion given in services, cash, and software to nonprofits around the world in the last 30 years by employees and the firm.
P&G – employees can teach tooth brushing and hand washing skills to kids, build homes, plus there are many corporate programs such as providing safe drinking water and vaccinations to expecting mothers and infants.
Verizon – employee volunteer grants, since 2000 over 6.8 million volunteer hours served, donated more than $500,000,000 towards community projects like technology for classrooms and reducing domestic violence.
TOMS – every purchase helps one person in need with a pair of shoes or eyesight in over 50 countries, they provide education on hygiene and healthy habits, prescription glasses, and treatments that save people from losing their vision.
Untemplaters, what type of volunteering and charitable giving benefits does your current employer offer? Do you wish you could contribute more to your community? Have you ever participated in or organized a donation drive or volunteer even at work?
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Jenny @ Frugal Guru Guide says
I hope to donate 10% of profits plus matching donations (not necessarily to the same charity…) worth 50% of employee donations up to a certain amount. (Our big thing is app development, so if all goes well, I’ll be hiring extra employees within a year!)
My first hire is–WAS, since he’s starting this wee, on a 1099–my autistic brother. It’s almost impossible for him to find a job because his social skills are so poor, but he’s plenty intelligent and just needs someone who appreciates what he does despite the fact that he CAN’T ever be a friendly guy. That someone appears to be me. I really hope everything goes well–not just for my sake, but for his!
Time Clock Software says
Volunteering is a great way for people to learn about others, and serving them is a spectacular feeling. Not only do you learn about the people you are serving, you learn a lot about yourself. You gain an understanding for what you have,what others don’t have, and how much people really do need each other. I believe that there are a lot of people out there who need the help of volunteers, but that the volunteers actually need the experience of volunteering more! With a happy attitude about helping others, there’s really not a much better feeling you can get.
Thomas | Your Daily Finance says
I am not sure if it leads to happier employees as some people dont care if it doesn’t make a difference to them personally. I mean if someone had a relative or friend with breast cancer and the company did breast cancer walks etc I am sure people would be happy for that moment. Not sure that makes them happier at work in general. I would rather companies do good things that they are not trying to promote but rather let the good deeds show from themself. A good deed is a great thing and we should be thankful that they are doing stuff period but in this day and age its easy to second or question a company’s motives for doing something.
I agree in a way with you, Thomas. I am not completly sure that having charity activities during business hours will make employees happier if they have to meet the same results as if they didn’t do them. This can be overwhelming in a sense. I prefer companies to give away products or money, and let the NGOs handle charity work. I do not mean that there are not happier employees voluteering, I say that may be not all of them will appreciate it. However it is great to think about the ways to contribute from a business perspective.
Michael @ The Student Loan Sherpa says
We do the relay for life every year at the office (as well raising money for many other charitable causes). I think its rewarding to be helping out and it is fun, which means we have a happier workforce.
Relay For Life is a great one! That’s encouraging to hear your firm is actively involved in so many events and causes.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with Relay For Life, these relay events support The American Cancer Society and raise around $400 million a year for cancer research. The relays last up to 24 hours in length with people taking turns walking, while honoring those who have lost their lives to cancer, celebrating survivors and caregivers, as well as raising awareness.
Michael @ The Student Loan Sherpa says
It really is an amazing and inspiring experience. Something that I think everyone should try at least once.
The company I used to work for didn’t really emphasize volunteer activities.
Although, once they set up a time for employees to volunteer answering phones for the local PBS television station during their fundraising period. Several people signed up to be volunteers, as did I.
My teenage son was interested so I took him with me. We had a great time, but it turned out that we were the only ones from the company that actually showed up.
Its to bad more didn’t come because it was really an interesting experience.
I’ve always wondered where the volunteers come from who answer the phones on those PBS fundraisers. 🙂 That’s awesome you did that with your son. PBS is great, I watch several of their shows. Did you get to be on TV when you volunteered? That’s a bummer more people didn’t show up from your company. At least you got to go with your son so you weren’t by yourself!
I think the best kind of charity is when the company does an equal match. I always found that effective – puts the onus on both the employee and the employer.
I am wary of software companies that give away copies of its own software and claim a tax break! Sorry had to call Microsoft out on this one, even though I appreciate their efforts in other more tangible areas. (Can an independent author distribute free copies of his ebook and claim tax breaks?)
Equal matching is nice and makes a big difference fast.
Interesting point you bring up about the tax breaks. But wouldn’t every business who gives away a product do the same thing? I’m sure Tom’s took a write off for all the toothpaste they gave away too if it was a legitimate deduction. I’m not a tax expert though so I don’t know what all the rules are. I’m sure there are caps on how much can be claimed as a tax break whatever the circumstances are because the government wants their “fair” share of every pot.
True Sydney. With other companies that make more tangible products, there is a cost involved in manufacturing a product. So giving away the product isn’t without a manufacturing cost.
With digital products, cost of manufacturing is nil. MS could distribute as many copies of its software as it pleases and claim tax breaks.