Building Better Business With Generosity: Ways for Self-Storage Operators to Give Back to Their Communities

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By Stan Craig

A recent full-page ad in the Sunday edition of “The New York Times” boldly stated that $60 million was received in 2012, more than $1 million a week for a variety of recognized charities and community causes. The ad was not from a charity or fundraising organization. It was from one of America’s largest retailers, with multiple stores all across America.

Why run a full-page ad announcing charitable giving? Why not a sales ad or holiday offers? Because statistics show customers, if given a choice, prefer to buy from companies that support charities and causes they see as valuable to their community.

More companies now understand the balance sheet is more than just numbers. They’re developing values that are stated, respected and carried out. Generosity is one of those values. The buying public has made it clear that they prefer to buy from good corporate citizens. Generosity demonstrates a genuine corporate value that benefits the company, employees and community.

Generosity comes in all sizes. It will fit nearly every business. How is true generosity recognized? It’s noticed if its goals are visible and more than a sales or a morale booster. If your self-storage business is looking for ways to give back, consider the following options.

Money Talks

One of the best ways to contribute to a cause is monetarily. In Louisville, Ky., the chairman of the United Way Campaign for 2012, Tom Monahan, wanted to encourage greater participation at all levels of business. But he also had another goal: “to blow away the stereotype of greedy companies interested only in the bottom line." Cash gifts were recognized in a new fashion.

Monahan enlisted the help of other community leaders and organizations to create a “Partners in Philanthropy” publication, as well as an awards banquet to showcase funds for the United Way and demonstrate the many examples of community generosity. Both the publication and banquet recognized the corporations and businesses that gave the most in cash contributions to nonprofit organizations in the city.

Categories were designed to recognize large, medium and small corporations for their cash gifts. Nonprofits and the work they do were presented. Small businesses were also recognized for the difference they made in a category called “partners in innovation.” A number of family-owned business leaders were included in this new recognition program. A local design company won for its work in renovating dormitories at a youth-treatment center and for enlisting many others for gifts in kind to complete the project.

Volunteering Works

Businesses that encourage employee-volunteer days at a local nonprofit of their choice get a double bonus: Employees enjoy serving, and local nonprofits see your company in a very different light.

With employee verification, write a check to an organization representing the value of an employee’s work if a paid day off can’t be granted. Schedule an employee-generosity day for all employees to sign up for a community or team project. Helping build a house for Habitat for Humanity, spending a day at a soup kitchen or shelter, or helping in a local school or community center are all team-building events as well as acts of generosity.

Here are just a few of the dividends corporate generosity creates, according to VolunteerMatch.org:

  • Raises employee morale: Ninety-four percent of companies surveyed believed employee volunteering provides a way to raise employee morale.
  • Boosts employee health: Ninety-two percent of people who volunteer through their workplace report higher rates of physical and emotional health.
  • Provides skill development: Eighty-eight percent of employee volunteers report that volunteering provides networking/career development opportunities.
  • Increases employee loyalty: Sixty-six percent of employees reported a greater commitment to the company as a result of their experience as volunteers.
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