Over the past three years, we’ve seen communities pull together in amazing ways. Businesses adapted overnight to keep their customers and employees safe. And we all learned the importance of helping each other out and working together.
As a business owner, you know how it feels to play an important role in your community. You employ people, buy inventory, pay taxes, and provide something people want and need. More than that, you find ways to support local organizations such as charities, business improvement associations (BIAs) and chambers of commerce that work hard to improve life for everyone.
It’s not just good, it’s good for business
Doing good work in your community is rewarding on a personal level and it’s also good thing for business. Today’s employees want to work for caring companies with a strong sense of purpose, and customers prefer to do business with companies that do good things.
A recent study reveals that when consumers see evidence that a brand has a strong purpose, they are1:
- 4 times more likely to purchase from the company.
- 4.5 times more likely to champion and recommend the company to friends and family.
- 4.1 times more likely to trust the brand.
So being a community-minded company is a win-win because you attract great employees and new customers at the same time.
A community-minded workforce does good
Beyond building trust with consumers, a business that focuses on helping communities also build trust, confidence, and enthusiasm among its employees. This has a couple great benefits:
A culture of caring and collaboration
A community-focused culture allows employees and managers to collaborate on more than just work. When community involvement is a priority, you can easily engage staff to bring forward ideas about which local charities to support or how to raise money for the organizations you want to help. It helps the community and it’s great for employee team-building and morale.
Top talent is attracted to top cultures
If you’ve tried hiring new people lately, you’re likely aware that Canada is facing a shortage of qualified, motivated workers to fill positions in every sector and at every skill level. In response, some employers are increasing salaries, offering perks they think employees want, and trying to outbid the competition for great recruits. All those things matter, but recent research suggests that when you align your organization’s values with both your strategy and the values of your employees, you reap all sorts of benefits including higher job satisfaction, lower turnover, and better teamwork2.
How to bring business and community together
Here are a few ways to make work and life more fun and interesting for everyone on your team and in your local community, while aligning your organization’s values and business strategy.
Paid volunteering, also known as volunteer time off (VTO), is an increasingly popular perk, especially for Gen-Z employees. VTO hours are commonly capped to a maximum number of days per month, quarter, or year. You can decide what’s best for your team.
You can also consider cash incentives for volunteer work such as:
- Matching employees’ donations to recognized charities.
- Offering small grants to organizations doing good work in your neighbourhood.
- Sponsoring company-wide volunteering events, such as charity runs.
The Government of Canada maintains a current list of registered charities. These organizations can issue official donation receipts for gifts they receive from individuals and corporations.
Fundraising is a great way to get the whole company involved in supporting the community. Have your employees choose a local charity to support and have the company match any funds raised.
Sponsor a community program
Consider making a difference in your community by sponsoring a local event or community program. You can donate cash to pay for supplies or cover the cost to run the event. It’s a great way to connect with your community members.
Seek out or work with local businesses to support your company operations. Ask yourself if you can use local suppliers for materials or equipment. Consider using local restaurants or event spaces for company events or team-building activities.
Most industries support formal mentorship programs but you can set up your own workshops to share what you know. You may even end up meeting your next new hire.
Donate a percentage of profits
Earmarking an annual profit percentage for charities, organizations, and groups you want to support is a great way to provide them with ongoing support year after year.
Join forces with your BIA or chamber of commerce
Most communities have business improvement associations (BIAs) that pool money to enhance the quality of life in their local neighbourhoods, such as:
- Capital improvements (streets/sidewalks).
- Crime-prevention initiatives.
- Beautification of streets with plantings and art.
Chambers of commerce also advocate for small and mid-sized businesses (SMEs) on larger issues such as regulation. The Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) has been an ally and advocate of local business for more than 110 years and currently has 60,000 members throughout the province.
An offer for OCC members
Members of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce receive a $200 welcome bonus when they open up a Meridian business banking account. Find out how.
Ask an advisor
If you want some friendly advice on how to incorporate more socially responsible practices into your business, such as fundraising, matching donations, or creating a tax-effective charitable-giving strategy, your Meridian business advisor is here to help.
1 2020 Zeno Strength of Purpose Study.
2 Paul Ingram and Yoonjin Choi. “What Does Your Company Really Stand For?” Harvard Business Review, (November-December 2022).
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