It's a win-win: 5 ways businesses can help themselves by giving back

(BPT) - Most businesses recognize the importance of finding ways to give back to their communities. But it often takes time for them to discover the full range of benefits they can realize when they commit to corporate giving.

The good news? Philanthropic donations from U.S. businesses are on the upswing. When polled in 2019, such corporations had gifted charities with an impressive $21.09 billion — a 13.4% increase over the year before. That giving has likely impacted the businesses themselves in a multitude of direct and indirect ways.

“Corporate donations are a great way to generously help nonprofit organizations that matter to you, your employees and your community,” writes Molly St. Louis on Inc.com. “(And) enterprise businesses have come up with some pretty creative ways of doing social good. You don't need a huge budget or full marketing team to execute a strong ‘giving back’ campaign.”

Thinking of initiating or increasing a corporate giving campaign? Here are five key benefits to such a campaign that you may not have considered.

It's probably important to your employees. Today’s more socially conscious workers, especially millennials, tend to have strong preferences for employers that give back. Statistics gathered by Charities.org show that 71% of U.S. employees place importance on working in a culture that’s supportive of giving and volunteering, while 87% of U.S. corporate leaders believe their employees expect them to support causes and issues that matter to those employees.

It can strengthen the communities that support your business. Targeting donations toward your local community or communities can be mutually beneficial, since it bolsters your customer base even as it demonstrates appreciation to your supporters.

For former Maryland state senator the Honorable Francis X. Kelly Jr., helping lead a philanthropy-minded employee benefits, administration and payroll business has been in alignment with a career defined by public service, business and civic involvement. He and his wife Janet founded Kelly & Associates Insurance Group in 1976 as a way to help small businesses secure affordable health care benefits for their employees. After bringing those small organizations together through common industry, trade and profession associations, they were able to form larger groups, which then allowed for access to the same health insurance benefits as larger companies. “This was a way we could create a business by helping existing businesses, and how we could sink roots into the community and earn a living at the same time,” Kelly explains.

These days, the Kellys and their Maryland-based company are committed to supporting a number of key charitable organizations including the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation.

It can teach you about your community. Involving yourself in the joys and challenges faced by your customers and other community members can teach you lessons that can be applied to your business strategy. “Being involved in your community and giving your time, talent and/or treasure exposes you to different perspectives and experiences,” notes Kelly. “While you may think you are giving to someone else, if you really put your heart into it, you will take away far more than you could ever give.”

It can help build relationships. Businesses tend to live or die based on the strength of the relationships they form with people and organizations. “Giving of yourself expands your ‘network’ in a personalized way that social media could never replicate,” Kelly advises.

It can inspire new perspectives, ideas and strategies. Interacting with the nonprofit community — and learning about the different goals, challenges and achievements of various organizations — can be a way to open your eyes and challenge your own assumptions. “Giving back to the community gives you the opportunity to be involved in bold proclamations, big goals and inspired vision,” Kelly explains. “That naturally will lead you to further drive your own business strategies, heighten your goals and develop a bolder vision for yourself and business.”

Corporate giving can be more than just another imperative to cross off your “to-do” list as a company leader. Think about all the benefits such philanthropy can offer, and use them to enrich yourself and your company in myriad ways. For more information, visit kellyway.com/about-kelly/kelly-in-the-community.