It’s becoming more and more common for companies to practice “brand activism,” instigating social change for causes that align with their values. Patagonia’s long-standing fight to preserve natural resources and habitats comes to mind. The company and a growing list of others is proof that customers don’t just care about the products and services you offer; they care about what you stand for as well.
Customers, employees, and employers want to be a part of something that’s making a difference in the world. But context is king. For a variety of reasons, not every organization is positioned to be an “activist.”
But we can all give back to our community in a meaningful way. When an organization dedicates its resources to a cause, it’s living out its values. Your business’ support — whether financially, through volunteer hours, or in-kind giving — can make a real difference in the world. Another added bonus? Giving back has a positive ripple effect on your team, your business’ image, and on you personally.
Service is the bedrock of leadership.
Robert Greenleaf, the man who coined the term “servant leadership,” had a few key outcome-based questions to identify servant-first leadership: “Do those served grow as persons? Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants? And, what is the effect on the least privileged in society? Will they benefit or at least not be further deprived?”
Regardless of our position in the workplace, we are all leaders in some form or fashion. And there’s no better place to sharpen our leadership skills than by giving back to the community. It helps reorient us outside of ourselves and creates a workplace culture that is more than the sum of the bottom line. In the end, studies show that an organization with that kind of culture is much more likely to be successful.
Intentional giving changes dynamics.
Giving back can put leaders into service tasks and allow followers to take on leadership roles. Whether it’s a volunteer opportunity or organizing the company’s charitable efforts, giving back can temporarily change office hierarchies in a positive, respect-building way.
Giving fosters diversity.
Our careers occupy most, if not all, of our weekdays. (And sometimes, our weekends too.) Add in family responsibilities, exercise and hobbies, and maintenance errands like grocery shopping, and our weeks can take on a rhythm of sameness. Seeking ways to give back forces us out of that cocoon and into a wider, more diverse pool of activists, community members, and business leaders. Charitable giving presents an opportunity to see another’s perspective, learn valuable insight about our communities, and develop true empathy for those who are unlike us.
Generosity begets generosity.
People pay attention to those who give. Their selflessness is attractive and sets an example for others to think about how they, too, might share their values by giving back. The cascade of one person’s giving to charities that heal, feed, educate, shelter, minister to, and enlighten every walk of life is limitless both in terms of who it helped and who it inspired to join the cause.
With the holiday season hitting full speed, there’s no better time to consider ways you and your business can give back. At MJM, we designate a portion of our talented staff to support the marketing efforts of selected nonprofit partners. Our support encourages them to keep serving their communities, and their work reminds us that the best way to lead is to be a servant first.
We hope you’ll consider making meaningful gifts to your community before 2021 comes to a close. You won’t regret it.