There are many benefits to holding charity events in your business, ranging from the personal to the corporate.
Collaborating with an employee to support a charity that they care about and have been involved with in the past is an excellent way to nurture a stronger bond between team members and inspire loyalty in your staff. It is a practical, tangible way to show an interest in what they care about and make them feel more valued at work.
Of course, business owners and managers can also have charities that they care about and sponsor, not just as an individual, but also through their business. A good rule of thumb is to never automatically expect customers or employees to get involved and support a charity. Rather than making involvement compulsory, make sure it is clearly voluntary and you are not expecting employees to sacrifice personal time for a cause you care about if they are not interested. However, many employees in a healthy workplace will happily volunteer to get involved if you give them the option; bonding over a shared cause and event can be a great team-building exercise that brings your employees closer, builds trust, and improves teamwork in other areas.
Different causes and different types of events offer different benefits. In general, they tend to range from popular to obscure, and from accessible to challenging.
Popular causes often involve children, pets, veterans, significant disease prevention and recent natural disasters. These involve charities that are well known and do not require much explanation. Obscure causes might involve a less visible or recent need, or require more involved explanations to participants or prospective donors.
Popular causes tend to be best if you want to involve the general public, perhaps in collecting modest donations or otherwise participating in a campaign. They can also be good for your company’s reputation, promoting your brand as one that is compassionate, generous and caring towards whatever the cause is that you choose to support.
Obscure causes can be a good choice when you have a clear personal or business connection to them. It helps if you have a narrative about why it matters and why you care and are choosing to get involved. This can also be good for targeted investment, to build a company brand in a very specific sector, industry or region.
Accessible charity events are easy to attend, easy to support, and do not require significant investment. These might be things such as a coffee drive or other modest donation to a meaningful cause such as to San Mateo County Health Foundation. Challenging events take time, effort and potentially more significant funds to get involved with, and may require multiple days of preparation or participation. These could include things such as charity runs and competitions.
Both can be good for public perception and participation as long as you include an accessible component, such as easy donations. You tend to get better exposure and more of a boost for your business’s brand if you participate in or operate events that are more challenging, as the public and/or your customers associate your level of investment and effort with the amount you care. However, if hosting a bespoke charity event or marshalling a team for a charity run is out of reach, smaller and events that are more accessible can have a positive effect on your reputation and contribute towards a healthy internal perception of leadership.
UK Coffee Week is one example of an accessible, popular charity event. It is very large scale, but is easy to participate in with strong publicity for all involved. It broadly supports a charity that is very easy to understand and that most people feel positively about (clean water and sanitation) and adds a more obscure twist that is very specific to the companies involved (international coffee growing communities).
When there is not an obvious charity to get involved with that relates to your business sector, local and popular charities are a good choice. Help for Heroes is a national charity that supports those who have served in the UK Armed Forces and their families. Since most people see the value of supporting veterans, this is a good charity to support for both altruistic and marketing/brand-enhancing purposes. Children’s hospitals, education, health and disaster relief are other good all-purpose charities that your business can benefit from supporting.
Raising funds for a charity can be a great way to strengthen your team, give back to the community, and build a positive perception of your business. Every little bit helps, so start small and work your way up to levels of participation that are right for you and your team.