The full-page ad in a Sunday edition of The New York Times stated boldly that $60,000,000 was received in 2012, over $1,000,000 a week by a variety of recognized charities and community causes. The ad was not from a charity or fundraising organization; it was from one of America’s largest retailers with multiple stores all across America. Why run full-page ads announcing charitable giving? Why not a sales ad or holiday offer? Because statistics prove over and over that customers, if given a choice, prefer to buy from those who provide support to charities and causes they see as valuable to their community.
More and more companies understand the balance sheet is more than numbers and have developed values that are stated, respected and carried out. Generosity is one of those values. The buying public has made clear that they prefer to buy from good corporate citizens. Generosity demonstrates a genuine corporate value that benefits the company, employees and the community.
When corporations were first granted their charters to do business in our new democracy, they were evaluated on the contributions they made to the public good. While much has changed in the way companies do business, providing public good is still very important and part of every balance sheet.
Generosity comes in all sizes. It will fit nearly every business. How is true generosity recognized? Generosity is noticed if its goals are visible and more than a sales or morale booster. If your company is looking for ways to give back, consider the following options:
Volunteering works. Businesses that encourage employee volunteer days at a local non-profit of their choice get a double bonus. Employees enjoy serving and local non-profits see your company in a very different light. With employee verification, write a check to an organization representing the value of an employee’s work if a paid day-off can’t be granted. Schedule an “employee generosity day” for all staff to sign up for a community or team project.
Helping build a house for Habitat for Humanity, spending a day at a soup kitchen or shelter or helping in a local school or community center are all team building events, as well as acts of generosity.
According to VolunteerMatch.org, here are just a few of the dividends that corporate generosity creates:
94% of companies surveyed believed staff volunteering provides a way to raise morale.
92% of people who volunteer through their workplace report higher rates of physical and emotional health.
88% of staff volunteers report that volunteering provides networking/career development opportunities.
66% of employees reported a greater commitment to the company as a result of their experience as volunteers.
There are many more examples of creative ways to be generous. Look around your neighborhood, your community. How can what you do every day become more evident and beneficial to others?
“Giving” actually multiplies what you are “receiving.” Walk into most any Sam’s Club or Costco at 1pm on almost any weekday, and you can basically have a free lunch – and not by ordering at the lunch counter. Just walk down the aisles and you will find hot foods from pizza to burgers, cold beverages, hot beverages, sweets and treats of all sorts – freely and gladly handed out. Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s are doing the same for their customers.
Why this generosity? The truth is, even if the goal is not necessarily to be generous (as we think of it), generosity can build sales. Coupons for free items, free bonus gifts and prizes have always worked to gain attention and build sales for products from cereal and soap to jewelry and big ticket items such as automobiles and even homes.
But how can you be generous when your cash is low, your business consists of products or services that you can’t give as samples – or you have few employees to volunteer? What then?
Customers and potential customers will take note. Positive publicity is generated. Commit to generosity in the true sense of the word and it will make a difference that can pay dividends for years to come and build your balance sheet in ways that simply can’t be quantified.
Remember, your bottom line may not only be measured by revenue received, but by resources shared. Generosity is a business vitamin that will build a healthier bottom line.
, the founder of the ForeTalk Seminar, is an accomplished financial planner, executive coach & keynote speaker. He is also author of ForeTalk: Taking Care of Tomorrow Today. As a finance professional, Stan enjoyed a 27-year career at Merrill Lynch, which included positions as National Sales Manager, Director of Global Sales for Defined Asset Funds & the First Vice President/Senior Director of the Office of Investment Performance. For more info, visit ForeTalkSeminar.com.
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