'Secret Sauce' is the Recipe for Business Success
Philanthropy and volunteering and their place in the recipe for business success.
Article by Leah Sikora Moore
In the recipe for corporate success, philanthropy and volunteering represent the “secret sauce.’ They take organizations to a new level, making them more competitive, more desirable to job candidates, and more well-rounded. These are essential elements of the Triple Bottom Line—and they require investment—but when it comes to corporate giving and community service, businesses reap what they sow.
Giving and community service have long been a treasured component of professional life in the Eugene-Springfield business community. “This community is very rich with volunteers, with people who are interested in really serving their community, and there's a diversity of ways that we can get engaged,” says Noreen Dunnells, President & CEO of United Way of Lane County.
This past September, United Way of Lane County celebrated its 25th annual Day of Caring, a county-wide effort that brings businesses and community members together to complete an array of service projects. This year, over 900 volunteers and 40 companies participated in the event, donating upwards of 3,600 hours of volunteer time, valued at a staggering $89,000*.
United Way also connects community members to volunteer opportunities year-round and recently developed a new strategic vision focused on ensuring that kids are successful in school and life.
The impact of a one-day effort, like United Way’s Day of Caring, is significant, but businesses can extend that impact all year long by weaving a service mindset into company culture. At Eugene law firm Gaydos, Churnside & Balthrop, P.C., service and volunteering are incorporated into daily activities.
Pictured: Nicholas Balthrop, associate attorney at Gaydos, Churnside & Balthrop, focuses his volunteer activities around his passion for agricultural development.
“It's not something that we just do with our extra time,” says Sheryl Balthrop, managing shareholder. “It's something that we feel is so important that we work our professional lives around it. It is a primary responsibility along with everything else that we do.”
Employees of the firm participate in company-wide service efforts and are supported in individual efforts to give back through mentoring and time-off during the workday, when needed.
“People recognize that it is a privilege to be able to serve,” says Balthrop who has noticed that employees consistently mention opportunities to make a positive impact in the community as one of their favorite aspects of the workplace.
Not only does corporate social responsibility move the needle in the community, it moves the needle for businesses on employee recruitment and retention. According to a 2016 study, conducted by Cone Communications on millennial employee engagement, 84% of this segment want employers to help them identify ways they can become more engaged and active in the community, while 76% said they consider a company’s social and environmental commitments when deciding where to work.
“Employees want to work with a company that’s not only doing well, but that is doing good in the community,” says Dunnells. Incorporating service-related activities is also an excellent way to develop employee leadership, build creativity and problem-solving skills, keep employees engaged, and foster camaraderie.
To weave a service mindset into company culture authentically and with meaning, businesses can incorporate these efforts into employee orientations, mentoring, and coaching efforts.
“Find out what the genuine heart-level interests of your staff and workers are,” recommends Balthrop adding that volunteerism must be customized to suit individual passions and be driven by more than a desire to check a box or pad a resume.
At Gaydos, Churnside & Balthrop, P.C., employees are encouraged to select service opportunities that align with their passions and then support their individual service projects.
“We let our staff know that we think it should be something that energizes and encourages them and that we will make a space for that. We encourage other businesses to do that. I think in the long run such makes everyone happier and healthier,” says Balthrop.
"Employees want to work with a company that's not only doing well, but that is doing good in the community."
- Noreen Dunnells, United Way of Lane County
- Noreen Dunnells, United Way of Lane County
Interested in Giving Back?
To learn more about ways to give back, visit UnitedWayLane.org
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