Are You Community-Minded?

Bristol Myers, General Mills and IBM were the Top 3 corporate citizens in 2009 according to the annual CRO 100 Best Citizens list.  These are just a few of the literally thousands of companies across the country that have made a commitment to “community.” Granted their communities are probably quite a bit larger than most of ours, and they have significantly more resources at their disposal, but the fact remains that even the biggest organizations in the country recognize the value of giving back.

In fact, Wisconsin Energy – a state-based investor-owned utility – was 12th on the list! Clearly, even organizations less influential than IBM can make a difference.

Certainly companies choose to support their communities because they are committed to responding to community needs. But that’s not the only reason. They also do it becuase they know that strong community relations programs can help build employee pride and public trust.

Even small organizations can take steps to give back and become involved and supportive of the communities they serve – there are a variety of opportunities ranging from sponsorship of local events and activities, participation on community boards, participation in fund raising and funding contributions.

The challenge is that the opportunities are many, but resources may be limited. In considering which events/organizations to support, there are a number of factors that come into play:

  • Your definition of “community” – this may be as narrow as the town you do business in or as broad as the world.
  • Your personal convictions.
  • The interests/convictions of your employees and customers.
  • Your available resources – time and money.
  • Your goals.
  • Your decisions about how your resources can be used most effectively to achieve your goals.

Certainly you need to prioritize. Keep in mind that where you give sends a message about you and your organization – a message that can directly impact your brand. There are no “bad” causes. There are only bad choices if those choices don’t support and align with your brand image.

Involving your employees – even your customers –  in this process can help identify those areas of support that will offer the greatest value to all.

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