Group of four employees packs household items in boxes.

The many business benefits of participating in charity

How to involve your employees and customers in the process.

With your business’s success, it’s only natural that you begin to look for ways to give back to your community. Corporate giving will not only be personally fulfilling, but it also holds a number of benefits for your business. But before you begin supporting your favorite causes, it pays to consider how corporate social responsibility can impact your company — and how to identify the right charities to support.

Proceed carefully with corporate social responsibility

The charitable organizations and objectives your company supports can significantly impact your company’s reputation. If your giving is authentic and aligned with your values, you’ll likely earn goodwill with your customers and employees. But if your organization’s support seems insincere or opportunistic, it can inflict significant damage.

For instance, when Kellogg’s UK seemed to promise to give meals to children in need based on the number of retweets of a message, observers accused the company of caring more about boosting their social media engagement than children in need.

Involve your most important stakeholders

Because of the high stakes in rolling out a charitable campaign, it’s crucial to involve your most important stakeholders — your employees and customers — in the process.

In fact, according to a study conducted by Benevity, 84% of consumers and 86% of employees believe they should have a say in what charities a company supports.

Involving your employees in the process can also boost morale, helping your professionals feel good about their connection to your organization. This employee goodwill in turn strengthens productivity, retention, and recruitment.

You can gather your employees’ and customers’ input through email surveys with incentives, informal discussions, and organized meetings.

Consider causes likely to align with your organization

Causes that directly relate to your organization’s core mission are strong candidates for your organization’s support. For example, if you build custom software solutions for companies, perhaps teaching children to code would be a suitable cause. You might also build software for organizations with limited means.

Similarly, if your core mission is selling an eye health supplement to consumers, you might support eye care for those without access to medical care. Or you might support research on eye health.

Of course, there’s no rule against supporting a cause that doesn’t have a clear nexus to your organization, particularly if that cause is something your stakeholders advocate for. But supporting a cause related to your mission will make sense to outside observers, whereas support for unrelated causes may seem like tokenism if not handled in a sensitive manner.

Next steps

  • Identify charities whose focus may relate to your core business mission; if there are none, consider creating your own charity.
  • Survey customers and employees about which of the identified charities they'd like your company to support and gather suggestions.
  • Continue to confer with stakeholders as you decide on how to support chosen charities or as you build your own charitable foundation.