“If people believe they share values with a company, they will stay loyal to the brand.” ~ Howard Schultz

Growing up, I played Little League baseball for a team called Guthrie’s. What is a Guthrie you may ask? I have no idea! It was the name on our jersey, and all I cared about was that we got cold sodas and pizza at the end of each game. As a 12 year old we won our town championship, which was the first time Guthrie’s had accomplished that, so we got ice cream as well.

I later learned that Guthrie’s was the name of a local gas station (Mobil to be exact), and the owner sponsored our team. Along with other teams sponsored by local businesses and civic organizations, it provided a great opportunity for kids to play baseball, basketball and football.

Today more than ever, it makes good economic sense for businesses to get involved in the local community.

According to a 2013 study by Cone Communications and Echo Research Group, 82% of consumers consider corporate social responsibility when deciding what to buy and where to shop. Furthermore, according to a Golin Harris study, employees’ view of their company’s corporate responsibility has a deep impact on company morale. People like working for a company they can be proud of.

There are countless opportunities to get involved. If your customer base has a lot of young families, you may want to sponsor a local sports team or be involved with the schools in your area. If you serve a lot of retirees, you may sponsor social gatherings or fitness events. Many businesses support causes by having certain time frames where a percentage of the profits go toward that cause. Others sponsor races or other community events to benefit disease research or a local institution such as the library, hospital or school. Larger businesses may want to adopt a larger charity that gives them a national or even international reach.

The cruise line I worked for adopted a special charity that worked with orphans or group homes in each of the Caribbean islands they visited, and donated clothes and toys at various times of the year. Christmas time was always something special. This was run by the crew, and established great feelings onboard. They also held a special “GIVE” day where people volunteered around town to clean up parks or beaches, or painted run-down buildings.

When done correctly, community involvement is simply a natural outworking of your growing relationship with your customers. The more meaningful those relationships, the more meaningful your service efforts will be.

Find a least one way your business can be involved in the community. Encourage and reward employees who get involved in the selected cause. The return you receive on employee morale, positive public perception and free publicity will be incalculable.

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