Volunteering is always good in its own right, but it can also be a great way to promote a business.
Aside from doing good in the community or in the world, business volunteering provides many opportunities. It offers chances for networking, plays a part in developing brand identity, and makes your company more visible. It also gives you and your employees a chance to develop leadership and professional skills.
Business volunteering is a way to grow your network
When you volunteer, you come into contact with all sorts of people from all walks of life. People you probably wouldn’t have otherwise met. In the business world, there’s a tendency to keep company with those in the same industry or closely related ones.
Likewise in our personal lives, we tend to associate with people who are similar to us – in age, marital status, values, socioeconomic status, etc.
Business volunteering brings new and unexpected people into your circle. And some of them are bound to have an interest in what you do. Some might be in need of the product or service you offer. Others could be potential investors. Still, others might be interested in affiliate marketing or partnerships. And some might have skills and services that your company could take advantage of.
Business volunteering can be a way to develop your brand’s identity
By associating your business with a cause that is related to your industry or that you care about personally, you help build brand identity. On the one hand, the very act of volunteering helps to promote your brand as socially conscious and involved. It shows that you care about more than the bottom line, and that goes a long way.
According to the 2014 Nielsen Global Corporate Social Responsibility Report, 55 percent of consumers are willing to pay more for products and services from companies with a focus on positive social and environmental impact. To be clear, what people say they will do and what they will actually do are often two different animals. And consumers rarely have all the information about each purchase they make.
However, making volunteerism and social responsibility a part of your overall brand strategy is likely to have a positive effect.
But you can’t just participate in one cause one time and expect customers to flock to you. You have to make it an integral part of your company if you want to be identified with caring and giving back.
On the other hand, even if volunteerism and social responsibility aren’t part of your company’s mantra, you can still gain in other ways from business volunteering.
Business volunteering can increase your company’s visibility
How much visibility your company gains largely depends on how you approach volunteerism. If you’re volunteering as an individual, you can network to spread brand awareness, but the effect will be small. If you are getting your business involved on a larger scale, the payoff in terms of visibility could be larger.
For example, sponsoring a charity event can pay off. So can offering free or discounted supplies bearing your company’s logo. If you get your entire organization involved, the effect is even greater.
Employees who volunteer get a greater sense of satisfaction from their work and their affiliation with the company. 67 percent of respondents in the Nielsen survey said they prefer to work for socially responsible companies. And happy employees are walking, talking advertisements. They will promote your business of their own accord. Business volunteering will bring them into contact with more people, giving them the chance to spread the word organically and honestly.
Business volunteering helps you and your employees develop new skills
When you and your employees volunteer, you’re also engaging in personal and professional development. If you volunteer on a government committee or the board of a nonprofit, you not only expand your network but also learn new ways of budgeting, managing, cooperating, and problem-solving.
If your employees volunteer as a group, no matter the cause, the experience will function as a team-building exercise. They’ll get to know each other better, they’ll develop loyalty to each other and to the company, and they’ll get better at working together.
Your employees who volunteer will also develop new skills, and business volunteering can serve as a kind of employee development program. They’ll gain leadership, interpersonal, and technical skills that can make them an even greater resource to your company. This is one way to scope out and develop your business’ future managers.
There are so many different organizations and causes to get involved in. From environmental causes to community development to poverty alleviation, there is bound to be something you care about and want to get involved in.
Don’t feel bad about capitalizing on volunteering as a way to promote your company and build your network. Instead, you and your employees should get a great feeling of satisfaction from doing your part, and realize that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with taking advantage of the opportunities that provide.
The more you volunteer, and the more you make business volunteering a part of your organization’s mission and culture, the more opportunities there will be.
What type of volunteering do you and your business do in your community? Let us know in the comments section below.