The inertia in many companies seems to be big employee volunteer events and some nonprofit sponsorships. Many of the companies that have come to me discovered that these things often look good in press releases, but fall short of expectations for making an impact. So what makes a good citizenship program? Here are five questions to ask at your company:
- How active are your stakeholders (especially your employees) in imagining, planning and doing your company’s citizenship program? What kind of citizenship program doesn’t include its citizens in making it come together? This applies to donating products, giving money, and especially volunteering. Do you understand what motivates your people and what stirs their passion? Go there.
- Does your citizenship program fit your business? I learned this from Doug Maibach, a senior vice president at Barton Malow. Doug looks for citizenship activities and partnerships that align with his company’s core business: Construction and teamwork. That’s why Barton Malow is a longtime partner with Habitat for Humanity. What does your business do well? Make that central to your citizenship program.
- Does your business have the right community partnerships? Your company likely outsources (for good reasons). Why not think about your community partnerships this way? Making a difference in the community may be important to your company, but you may be in the business of making radiators. Why not find a community partner that is in the business of making the difference your company wants to make in the community? Form a business partnership with that organization the same way you form a partnership with your payroll service or a supplier.
- How are you measuring the return on your investment in citizenship? Have a conversation about why your company chooses to do a citizenship program. Then keep asking “Why?” until you get to the stuff you can measure. You’ll find both external (community impact, etc.) and internal (employee engagement, etc.) motivators. When you get to the bottom of why you do citizenship, figure out how best to measure and report on it.
- How are you managing your citizenship program? How do you plan, promote and support your citizenship activities? How do you manage communication to engage your stakeholders in the process? How do you account for the resources that your company invests in citizenship? How do you enter and evaluate community partnerships? How do you develop and roll out your citizenship strategy? What methods and tools do you use to do all of this?
You’re intuitive enough to know that good citizenship has the power to enlarge and enrich both your company and the world around it. When you start asking these questions, you’re on your way to leading the change that makes the greatest possible difference to both.
This article was written by Brad Irwin, B.T. Irwin, LLC. Follow Brad at btirwin.com.