The first time I ever heard the phrase “doing good in the community” I was at Molex in the late ’70s, but typically then the funds donated to causes started and ended at the ownership level. Today there are countless programs that are officially set up to match employee funds and even allow employees time off to volunteer locally for causes that they are passionate about. More of bottoms up versus top down is a very good thing to enhance employee engagement and morale, which will impact attraction and retention of employees.
Plus, communities grow stronger when ordinary people step up and donate their time and money to worthy local causes and nonprofits.
I think all outreach is great, but I want to be clear here: Just because you help your kids in Little League or donate your time and energy as a coach for a sport or artistic endeavor, etc., that is NOT community service, that’s family service. The first time I remember noticing community service was in the early ’70s when my twentysomething buddies Rich Hellgeth and Joe Panico were coaching football at their grammar school, St. Edwards, in Chicago. They didn’t have kids or siblings on the team. They just felt compelled to give back to the next generation. I thought it was pretty cool–still do.
About five years ago, I was attending a CFO award presentation and my Avnet CFO lost to the CFO of another company because of his community service (which is a good reason). BUT when I found out that his service was just being a Little League coach I wanted a recount! That was not service to the community — it was supporting his kids. So I complained and they changed their award criteria in that area. And yes my guy eventually won a couple of years later.
If you’re a Scout leader and you don’t have kids in the troop or you run the Little League for handicapped kids and your kids aren’t playing, that counts in my book! If you volunteer, you’ll feel good. “Volunteer ” is a wonderful word and concept. And if you encourage your colleagues at work to join you, you’ll all feel good. So whatever you are doing to benefit others or causes, keep doing it. My bet is you will meet like-minded new friends that will impact your life as much as you help the nonprofit. If you still can’s get involved it’s still cool just writing a check.
Al Maag is author of the book “Social Media Isn’t Social” available on Amazon.com; and a principal at MaagComm+