Recession Recovery: How To Show Local Community Support
During the recession recovery, it’s important for businesses to support local communities. It’s a role that businesses have historically played and one that allows communities to bounce back as quickly as possible. Certainly, it helps that many businesses remained open or reopened quickly during the crisis, providing products, services, and jobs when they were most needed. However, there are many other ways that your business can help your community recover as we look forward to more prosperous times.
Why It’s Important To Support the Community
As mentioned, communities benefit from the products, services, and jobs each business offers. Businesses, in turn, must be surrounded by strong communities, without which they cannot survive. So it’s in the best interest of your business to provide as much support as possible to stimulate the local economy and fulfill your corporate social responsibility (CSR).
Not only will the community recover more quickly, but your business will also have fostered deeper relationships, enhanced your brand awareness and reputation, and generated lasting goodwill. Further, it’s an opportunity to foster a positive culture internally that attracts and retains the best people. It’s true: People like companies that support the community. This applies to employees, as well. It’s a win-win for everyone.
How Your Business Can Help
The most effective community recovery plan will be those that are a part of your business disaster preparedness and continuity planning process. You may have such a plan in place but found that it fell short during these unprecedented times.
You may have anticipated many types of scenarios. Handing out bottled water after a devastating storm. Providing emergency shelter. Sponsoring a local food bank. But who could have predicted a worldwide pandemic? Apparently, not very many.
Still, there are things that your business can do right now to aid in the economic recovery of the communities you serve. If you were fortunate enough to make it through the financial ups and downs with your own business intact, you are one of the fortunate companies that are uniquely positioned to help.
What To Do
It doesn’t take a Herculean effort, just a few purposeful steps.
Hire Local Businesses
As you know, not every business made it through the darkest days of COVID-19. But the restaurant industry was especially hard hit. Although the number is exceptionally difficult to pin down, according to the Washington Post, an estimated 70,000 restaurants closed due to the pandemic. For those that survived, why not hire them to cater your next employee event or luncheon? Or, rather than sourcing your paper and packaging needs online or from a big corporation, find your local supplier. Buy gift cards from nearby businesses to use as rewards and incentives.
You may have to get creative about how you spend your purchasing dollars, but every company can find ways to channel more money into local businesses that don’t have the deep pockets needed to survive such harsh times.
Donate to Local Organizations
Establish a fund to collect money from employees, customers, suppliers, partners, and anyone you do business with. You can facilitate donations via your website. You can also contribute a portion of your sales revenues to the fund or organize an employee-run event.
Engage your employees by allowing them to decide both how to raise money and how to donate it. When employees are involved in decision-making, they feel more empowered and invested in the outcome. Plus, it removes the burden on company leaders to make all the choices.
According to Groundswell founder and CEO Jake Wood, “It can feel overwhelming as a company leader to know where to support. We know our employees have a wide range of causes they care deeply about, so why not directly support them? We want to democratize that decision and give it back to our employees. It’s a model we feel extremely passionate about.”
Groundswell took the idea a step further. “We’re gifting $150 per quarter to our employees into their own personal giving account to donate to whichever charity they want to support.”
Think beyond dollars. Your communities may have other needs. For example, perhaps the children from the local area need laptops, Wi-Fi services or school supplies. If you have a robust website, think about providing an online resource center to help community members find or exchange the things they need. The resource center is also a good way to determine which needs are going unmet.
If you don’t already do so, subscribe both online and off to your local newspapers. Make them available in your place of business for both employees and customers. Place a stack outside your entrance as a free service to the public. You can fight the trend toward misinformation and support your local news as well.
Provide Paid Time Off for Volunteering
Your company can provide human resource support to nonprofit companies by allowing employees to volunteer during the workday. The employees get paid and the nonprofit receives much-needed services. Since many volunteer activities take place during the workday, employees can volunteer without giving up their personal time off or sacrificing pay.
Sometimes companies determine which activities they will allow employees to do. But in many cases, the only requirement is to do good in the community. Whichever option you choose, it’s only a benefit if employees use it. Inform employees and support them when they take time to volunteer.
Demonstrate leadership by taking the initiative and forming alliances with other businesses. Together you can make a greater impact when you combine funds and resources. Such alliances allow you to accomplish more without taking on too great a burden. It’s a good business opportunity, as well, to network and find synergies and best practices with complementary companies. It pays to nurture relationships with other businesses.
Support Community Events
Make an extra effort to support community activities, from outdoor concerts to farmer’s markets to art gallery openings. Use your social media accounts to share word-of-mouth. Provide sponsorship with money, resources and facilities. This is an opportunity to attach your company’s name to the great things that are happening in your area. Even better, it’s a way to support local artisans and venues, stimulate the economy and generate community cohesion.
Despite the press generated around the Great Resignation, there are still plenty of families reeling from job loss and rising inflation. The good news is, that many are right there in your neighborhood. If you have positions to fill, don’t miss the opportunity to help. Seek out the underserved and overlooked populations (e.g., hourly workers) who are most affected by a return to the office amidst soaring gas prices.
Businesses Doing More
These are some of the most important ways that your business can support the community during the recession recovery. Of course, you’ll want to keep sponsoring the local baseball team and keep your active membership in the Chamber of Commerce during trying times. But to join the ranks of the most respected businesses in your community, the place where employees are proud to work, you’ll want to do more.
A corporate giving program is one of the best ways to support your community, demonstrate corporate philanthropy and foster a positive work culture. The Groundswell platform makes it easy to provide this coveted employee benefit. Contact us for more information.
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