Business & Community Involvement
Companies large and small have started, or are expanding, programs and campaigns that support various aspects of the community. Be it the Pepsi Refresh Project or your local charity initiative, this approach is becoming increasingly common. So how important is it for businesses to give back? How can you tell genuine care from feel-good marketing? And where does it go from here?
First, let’s briefly address the first question. To know how important it is for business to give back to the community we have to consider the object of business. The most obvious goal of business is to make money. In order to do that, a business has to be successful at selling a product or service. If a portion of the community is distressed, and unable to be paying customers, the business world suffers as the community does. We are seeing daily examples of this effect today. Yet somehow, even when spelled out as simply as it is above, some business decision makers still do not see how community initiatives impact the ever powerful bottom line. If handled correctly, bettering your immediate (and sometimes even extended) community can have a swift positive benefit on a business’s growth.
So what is to be said about the marketing aspects of these programs? Here is a general rule of thumb. Some type of marketing is usually what is exchanged for a business’s participation or donation to a cause. Homework is required in order to really determine if a primary goal is increased visibility or community impact. Take into consideration how long the relationship between company and non-profit, for example, has been in existence. If the program is an in-house cause, find out if the bulk of the program’s organizers have titles that include the words “community” and “outreach”, or, “marketing” and “advertising”. If you are seriously interested in getting involved with a particular initiative, make contact and ask questions. Eventually, true intentions will become clear. Be sure, however, not to assume the worst. Many of the relationships between the business and community sectors have been formed out of an authentic and mutual care for a community issue.
The impact that the two areas, business and community, have upon each other can not be denied. It is apparent that a proactive approach is needed for both to be successful. The responsibility is not solely that of the business world. The community has to step up and respond to the collaborations in the name of good causes, and be sure to support the businesses that are supporting them. Whether that means purposely purchasing from businesses that do have these programs in place, or, encouraging those that don’t to get involved – action is required. The point is this; all of us working together can certainly create a harmonious system of enhancing each other. So get out there, do your homework, and get started making a difference today!