Strategy for Business Giving, Community Building
BY CHRISTINE TORRES
Published July 30, 2020
It is no secret that when a business gives back to the community, it not only makes workers feel good, but it is great for business. Investing in community nonprofits and even in other local businesses might be challenging when a company doesn’t know where to start, especially during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. For this week’s #USAMfgHour chat on Twitter, tape manufacturer and supplier Pro Tapes hosted a talk on its CORE Caring Program, how a company can give back to the community, how to get team involvement, addressing needs, and ways to provide social support and foster business relationships.
“Giving back to our community fosters relationships that have immeasurable value, and assists with brand awareness,” Pro Tapes said. “One of the most cost-effective ways to improve employee engagement is to support your employees in giving back to their local community.”
Does your company offer paid time off for volunteer work, or offer opportunities to give back via charitable causes?
“We haven't done any volunteering yet, but we have done charitable causes,” said Nick Rivers of Obsidian Manufacturing in Illinois.
“We find it’s a fantastic way to build morale,” said Ed Miller, president of Pro Tapes.
“We support tribal community development initiatives – water, health, literacy, and livelihood program geared toward marginalized tribal minorities located overseas,” said Ruby Rusine of Social Success Marketing. “In particular, people groups that get the least support (finance and manpower).”
“We take giving back to the local community extremely seriously,” said Mike Womack of New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program. “We run a food drive all year long. Our team goes and volunteers at the @CFBNJ every year. Plus, we raise money for a scholarship fund through activities like our #JerseyGuys golf outing.”
Volunteering activities, which encourage teamwork, tend to foster positive employee relationships and trust. Are there charitable causes or community activities that your company supports that get folks working as a group?
“We allow our employees to give back during the holidays,” said Dan Bigger of Chenango Valley Technologies. “They pick a charity that they want to sponsor, and the company donates to that charity on their behalf. They also get to visit and present the donation. Honestly, the day I get to take the employees to the locations and donate the checks is the best day of the year. It means so much to the charity and the employee. Being there and seeing it really is the best feeling. Giving back is such a wonderful experience.”
“It is a great way to bond the team towards a noble cause, then it reflects in the daily operations,” said Lermit Diaz of SCTools.
“We started small last year with a donation box ‘Hats for the Homeless,’ and received a lot more donations than we thought we would,” said Rivers. “But how do you get groups together now?”
The group's consensus was that while the pandemic has been a disruption to the daily operations of many groups, there are ways businesses can remain proactive in keeping in contact and ready to lend a helping hand. This led to the third question: Do you know what your local community needs? How can your brand or business be uniquely helpful to others?
“According to one study, 82% of consumers consider a company’s social engagement before buying their products,” said Pro Tapes. “Our communities need us now more than ever, but we must do so in a way that is safe for everyone. Although group activities currently may not be safe, we will be looking into ways to help those on the front line of this pandemic.”
“A church across where I live does this regularly with social distancing involved + mask,” said Rusine. “They ask people to drop off items. Helped make PPEs that were initiated by our local high school sports team at a faith-based org when PPEs were scarce. Also helped collect, and bag, food. I get emails of when help is needed, so I respond when I have time.”
“My company sponsors a Horse Rescue in Texas,” said Dondi Scumaci, an author and mentor. “It's a great way to gather people around a shared passion or goal.”
“I think the needs of each community are changing during these times,” said Christine Torres of Graphic Products. “Looking for new ways to solve the problems and helping, I think is a testament to everyone's abilities to adapt and still serve humankind.”
“Donating the products or food that the organization needs is always more impactful,” said Womack.
Be Encouraging to Others
Technology has made it so much easier to connect people and companies. In what ways do you offer social support or try to create a sense of community through social media?
“There is a website in our area that specifically calls out where volunteers are needed,” said Rebecca Hart of Dynamatic. “We saw a large need for those who are food challenged, so we answered that call. As for how we can be unique: We haven't figured that out yet. ;) Open to ideas!
“We use all of our social media pages to help others,” said Bigger. “Mainly we focus this effort on FB. We try to promote things or companies that are involved with these types of projects. That is how we have built our community on all platforms.”
“Through my personal and business Facebook pages as well as the Oley Valley Business Association meetings and FB page,” said Marie Moser of East Pointe Search Group. “I and others promote OVBA members' businesses as well as other businesses within the community.”
What relationships could you foster to help your business and others positively impact the community? Who could you partner with?
“It's at these intersections the magic happens, and I am learning they aren't always where you expect them to be,” Scumaci said.
“The key is to start, no matter how small,” said Miller. “Next step is to recognize those how participated and build on the momentum created last year.”
Anyone who champions U.S. manufacturing can join in on a new conversation each week on Twitter using the hashtag #USAMfgHour. The chat starts at 11 a.m. Pacific Standard Time/2 p.m. Eastern. Share positive blog posts, helpful articles, news, important information, accomplishments, events, and more with other manufacturers and supporters from throughout the country.