A lot of businesses like to get involved in their local communities and they have good reason for doing so. It increases brand awareness, introduces them to new professional connections, helps to nurture existing ones and, above all, it’s the good and right thing to do.
And beyond those obvious benefits, there are a few not-so-obvious ones too.
More and more common (especially among younger generations) employees want to know that they work for a “good” employer. And it’s not about company perks anymore, they want to know that their employer has a positive impact on the world. And as well as helping you find new employees, altruistic work can assist you in keeping hold of them too as aligned values are a massive contributing factor to employee satisfaction.
The employee benefits aren’t just limited to attracting new ones. Encouraging volunteer work can help strengthen existing teams too. This is because there isn’t always enough time in the workday to form new bonds quickly. But encouraging some out-of-hours teamwork without the pressures of the work place allows employees to relax. They can let their guard down and really get to know one another – most likely over a cause they all believe in.
And for those reasons, getting involved with local projects is a great thing for law firms to do too.
Take, for example, Eric Chaffin, managing partner at Chaffin Luhana. His firm not only gets involved in community projects, but they even started their own not-for-profit foundation. So far they have supported numerous projects, set up scholarships and hosted sandwich and turkey giveaways.
But it’s not about the exposure or the brand equity. At the heart of Chaffin Luhana is the belief in “doing good by doing right”. It’s their niche. They get involved with these projects because for them, it’s the right thing to do. The brand awareness and business connections are just side effects of their main purpose.
Taking part in local charitable causes really doesn’t have a downside. And thankfully, you don’t have to go as far as setting up a foundation to get started (unless you really want to). So if you want to start giving back to your community but don’t know where to begin, read on for some of our ideas and suggestions.
Go Pro Bono
And we don’t mean forever, just whenever you can. The joy of doing pro bono work over most other types of charity is that you don’t have to go anywhere. You can simply post a message on your social media channels and people can come to you. However, you could also host these sessions at a local community center if you wanted to include a larger number of people. It’s really up to you.
You could also host free drop-in advice sessions for locals to come in and give you their queries. Or you could choose a case or a cause that you’re willing to see all the way through. It’s important to remember that legal advice (let alone full-blown representation) can be extremely expensive. So even donating a little of your time could prove to be a huge help for some.
However much time you decide to commit, it’s best to communicate that upfront so as not to cause confusion.
Promote Volunteering Among Staff
This method is great because it allows you to have a broader impact on your community. The idea is to give your employees the time to go and volunteer at the projects they care most about. So rather than supporting just one cause, you’re supporting dozens (potentially hundreds) all at once.
To do this you can allocate staff a certain number of paid days to go and help out at a cause of their choice. This is a particularly popular initiative because staff can volunteer where they want, making this much more personal and fulfilling. It also demonstrates your firm's commitment to the greater good from the outset and is particularly encouraging for new employees.
This is a relatively low effort way of supporting good causes, but it can have a great impact. One way you can do this is by picking a charity (or charities) you’d like to donate to and arrange a short or long-term donation. Funds could come straight from your profits or even from employee contributions.
Some businesses, especially larger ones, tend to only be affiliated with big national projects. This is still good, but the impacts aren’t always visible on a local level. This is why law firms can really benefit from helping out causes in their own communities.
Some great sponsorship opportunities to look out for are individuals raising money (sportspeople, obstacle course runners, skydivers, etc.) and even local events (festivals, charity sports matches). And while some might approach you directly for sponsorship, many might not. So let your audience and the community know through your media channels that you’re looking to help.
Scholarships sound like an expensive word. But don’t be afraid of them, you don’t have to offer a full ride. You can offer as much or as little as you want (but not too little) and still make a big difference. A few hundred dollars could potentially cover a year’s worth of textbooks. And if you’ve got the budget you could end up helping a lot of struggling students.
Scholarships are also excellent because (unlike helping big national charities) the effects are visible to you, the community, and the individual. So you’ll get the satisfaction of supporting someone through college, and the community will see the impact you’re having too. And you can market this process if you want to make it more visible. You could host an essay competition or even have a callout to the lawyers of tomorrow.
This last suggestion almost doesn’t seem like charity. But to some, the opportunity of an internship is a career-making experience. It’s also probably the most cost-effective option available even if you decide to pay your interns.
Running regular internships demonstrates a commitment to future generations, much like a scholarship does. However, here the benefits of your efforts are even more visible as you work with the young person you’re trying to help. And the assistance you offer isn’t just the work experience you provide them with, but it’s also the hours of training, guidance, and advice you and your colleagues provide.
In pure business terms, the ROI in internships is huge.
So whether you’re looking to get involved with charities for the first time, or simply want some more ideas, hopefully our list has given you some options to think about. And perhaps it’s shown that you don’t need a foundation and hundreds of thousands of dollars to make a real difference to the lives of those in your community.