If you knew you could strengthen your business, foster some goodwill in your community and help others at the same time, would you do it? When you volunteer your time and efforts with charitable organizations, you can get back way more than you give.
Let’s look at three key ways volunteering is good for your small business.
Volunteering Enhances Your Business Reputation
While you volunteer primarily to help others, your service has a positive ripple effect no matter what business you have. According to a report by the Project Management Institute, 40 percent of a company’s reputation is determined by how customers or clients perceive its social responsibility.
Another study by McKinsey and Company found that volunteer programs are one of the best ways to maintain a strong business reputation. When you donate your time and efforts in your community, people notice. They then connect that sense of commitment and caring with you and your company.
Whether it is cheering on runners at the Special Olympics or helping to build a new community playground, you will meet new people when you serve as a volunteer.
These new connections can turn into new clients and customers down the road. You’ll find people will remember you and give you a call when they are in need of the services you provide. Similarly, they will pass on your name to other potential clients through word of mouth.
By posting photos and information about the charitable organizations you support on your website and social media pages and providing links to that organization’s website, you can double your goodwill efforts. People like to do business with companies that support organizations they care about.
Your Team Can Be Strengthened
According to a study by Deloitte Research, more than 50 percent of the employees surveyed who do regular volunteer work reported that they feel “very loyal” toward their employer and that they would recommend their company to a friend.
The study also revealed that more than half of the Millennials who volunteered along with their co-workers said they would rate their work culture as “very positive,” as compared with respondents who did no volunteer work.
When you seek out volunteer projects for your team, look for non-profit groups with goals and activities that reflect your organization’s core ideals. That way, when you get involved, you will be strengthening your company culture as well as the relationships between team members.
These relationships translate into better work performance. If you allow your team “work time” for volunteer projects, it allows them to get away from the daily office routine. Volunteer projects provide a nice change of pace from everyday tasks and often teach your staff important new skills.
Many volunteer projects, such as picking up trash along a waterway, building a house for the poor or tutoring a child, stretch you both mentally and physically.
This stretching is good for your sense of confidence and your overall state of mind. A study conducted by the Corporation of National and Community Service found that adults who volunteer on a regular basis have less trouble with depression and have a higher sense of self-worth than people who do not volunteer. In addition, the study found that volunteerism helps protect people from feelings of isolation.
Volunteering Develops Your Professional Skills
Many volunteer projects offer you the chance to try something new. Often you can put this experience right back to work in your company. According to the Deloitte study, 91 percent of Fortune 500 HR managers surveyed said that volunteer work with a non-profit organization is an effective way of building leadership and business skills.
For example, you could develop your public speaking skills when you serve as the moderator for the youth program’s annual scholarship dinner. You might hone your design skills when you help your local animal shelter with its new website. Or you could dust off your writing skills when you help draft program notes for the community theater.
If you are considering making the jump from a 9 to 5 job into your own start-up, volunteering can offer the opportunity to “try out” a new skill set without making a long-term commitment. Let’s say you are feeling stuck in your current field and are considering a completely different career in healthcare. By volunteering with a hospital or healthcare facility, you can get hands-on training and experience. You also will make valuable contacts that could benefit your new career.
Volunteering helps to make you a more well-rounded person, and, as a result, a more compassionate business owner. Volunteering also plays a part in the happiness quotient in our lives. In a study of American adults, London School of Economics researchers found that the more time people spent volunteering, the happier they are.
The chances of being “very happy” increased 7 percent among people who volunteered on a monthly basis and 12 percent among respondents who volunteered every two to four weeks when compared with people who did not do any volunteer work. The study found that participants who donated their time to religious organizations reported the greatest impact.
Now you may be wondering where to get started as a volunteer. Start with your interests and with the purposes and goals of your business. Another option is to simply look for where there is the greatest need in your community. Chances are good you will be able to find a way to help fill that need with your efforts.
Here are some organizations to consider: