Like so many businesses, one of our major priorities is identifying philanthropic and community relations opportunities that are not only in line with our overall mission, but that strike a chord with our employees, inspiring them to get involved. Incorporating a corporate social responsibility strategy into your annual plan means much more than just aligning yourself with a cause and writing a check—and a successful CSR strategy can achieve much more for your business than the expected warm and fuzzy reaction elicited by doing a good deed.
Finding ways to give back to the community has been a priority for us since we founded the company 20 years ago, and in the past few years we’ve contributed time and money to organizations such as YouthBuild USA and Habitat For Humanity, among several other smaller organizations looking for sponsors for anything from youth baseball teams to races for various charities. In 2011, we were given the opportunity to make an even bigger contribution to an important cause when we became a National Corporate Sponsor for Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF), a foundation for pediatric cancer research. In addition to an annual commitment to donate one dollar per window, per square foot of siding and per square foot of roofing installed throughout the year, last month we embarked on our inaugural Power Month for Alex’s, a company-wide, month-long initiative aimed at raising money, and awareness, in each of the markets Power does business.
Taking on a formal CSR strategy, not to mention devoting an entire month to a cause, can be a daunting endeavor for any business. At Power, we were able to make our efforts successful by first taking the following guidelines into consideration:
- Find a cause that your employees can connect with. In an era when free time feels exceedingly scarce, and in an industry where the traditional workweek often creeps into the weekend, even employees with the best intentions can feel reluctant to give up free time to volunteer, especially if they don’t feel connected to the cause. Take a survey or ask around the office to ensure the charity you choose is one that resonates with the majority and compels everyone to take interest.
- Create incentives, in addition to volunteer opportunities. Power Month included volunteer opportunities for our 1,200 employees, such as hosting lemonade stands in the office and at home, as well as special events like Power Night at PPL Park, where we hosted employees, their families, and several ALSF “Hero” families at a tailgate and in our suite to watch a Major League Soccer game. Employees that raised the most money for Alex’s were also awarded individual cash prizes they could keep or donate back to the charity. By creating a balance of time spent volunteering with time relaxing alongside coworkers and family members, we were able to enlist our employees to support the cause and thank them for sharing in our commitment.
- Promote your efforts internally and externally. Implementing a charitable outreach program, either large or small, can foster feelings of loyalty and pride among employees and customers alike – but only if they are aware of the company’s commitment to the project. Utilize tools like social media and customer communications to spread the message to your audience and you’ll likely ensure a greater level of participation, ultimately increasing both the final donation amount and the pride everyone feels from supporting a business that gives back.
Perhaps most importantly, set a realistic goal for yourself when embarking on your first charitable outreach initiative. Thanks to the support and hard work of our employees, we’re happy to share that we’re on track to meet our goal of donating $300,000 to ALSF this year.