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DAVIS: Support workers' volunteerism

May 18, 2013
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DavisWith businesses everywhere working to attract and retain great talent and customers, giving back to the community can end up on the back burner. The time and effort required to connect with charities, plan events and provide time off from critical business focus initially seems to be counterproductive. This paradigm leaves many leaders scratching their heads about corporate social responsibility.

The most successful companies, however, have great business results along with a well-executed focus on community relations and corporate giving.

The missing link for some is the understanding that top-notch employees and customers recognize and respect companies that serve their communities while thriving as a successful business.

The most effective enterprises realize that outstanding results are actually supported by being a great corporate citizen. This includes demonstrating to employees and customers alike that they care as much about their neighbors and communities as they do about the balance sheet.

Young, talented employees continue to accept positions based on the total package, including corporate culture and social responsibility. As final decisions are being made, they will often accept the role providing the freedom and resources to give back in the midst of record-breaking sales and innovation.

According to The Chronicle of Philanthropy, nearly 71 percent of employees surveyed said their employer’s volunteer program made them feel “more positive” about working there. Corporate employees said the best way to recognize their volunteerism is for the company to donate to the charities to which they volunteer.

Companies are developing cultures of greater purpose without sacrificing their ability to pay the rent and make payroll by taking risk. Risking that the time off given to serve charities will build teamwork instead of losing precious hours of productive time. Risking that employees will stay with the company because it has demonstrated the desire to pay it forward to those who need the company’s time, talent and resources.

Risking that customers will appreciate the company’s passion for serving food at the local homeless shelter during business hours. And finally, risking that there will be unusual cooperation among all business relationships to help the company succeed because it is willing to help others.

The Corporation for National and Community Service report showed that, among citizens who volunteered, the top activities included fundraising or selling items to raise money (26.2 percent); collecting, preparing, distributing or serving food (23.6 percent); engaging in general labor or transportation (20.3 percent); or tutoring or teaching (18.2 percent).

These numbers demonstrate the desire by employees to do more than donate money. They are volunteering their time and talents to become engaged with charities in a meaningful way and becoming volunteers for a lifetime.

Companies should keep the momentum going, roll up their sleeves, hit the pavement, and help those in our communities who need them the most.•

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Davis is executive director of Companies With A Mission, an Indianapolis-based not-for-profit. Send comments on this column to ibjedit@ibj.com.

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  1. The east side does have potential...and I have always thought Washington Scare should become an outlet mall. Anyone remember how popular Eastgate was? Well, Indy has no outlet malls, we have to go to Edinburgh for the deep discounts and I don't understand why. Jim is right. We need a few good eastsiders interested in actually making some noise and trying to change the commerce, culture and stereotypes of the East side. Irvington is very progressive and making great strides, why can't the far east side ride on their coat tails to make some changes?

  2. Boston.com has an article from 2010 where they talk about how Interactions moved to Massachusetts in the year prior. http://www.boston.com/business/technology/innoeco/2010/07/interactions_banks_63_million.html The article includes a link back to that Inside Indiana Business press release I linked to earlier, snarkily noting, "Guess this 2006 plan to create 200-plus new jobs in Indiana didn't exactly work out."

  3. I live on the east side and I have read all your comments. a local paper just did an article on Washington square mall with just as many comments and concerns. I am not sure if they are still around, but there was an east side coalition with good intentions to do good things on the east side. And there is a facebook post that called my eastside indy with many old members of the eastside who voice concerns about the east side of the city. We need to come together and not just complain and moan, but come up with actual concrete solutions, because what Dal said is very very true- the eastside could be a goldmine in the right hands. But if anyone is going damn, and change things, it is us eastside residents

  4. Please go back re-read your economics text book and the fine print on the February 2014 CBO report. A minimum wage increase has never resulted in a net job loss...

  5. The GOP at the Statehouse is more interested in PR to keep their majority, than using it to get anything good actually done. The State continues its downward spiral.

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