Thursday, July 21, 2011

Dear Small Business, Welcome To Our Community

We are excited that you have brought a new business to our town and we’re glad to have you. In an interview with our local paper you said that as your company settles in, it will become involved in the community. You also said that your involvement will depend on what your people are passionate about. I congratulate you on your commitment to being socially responsible and helping to make your new community thrive.

Our community has many organizations that need help and so I can pretty well guess that already that you will be swamped with requests for help from every non-profit within striking distance of your new headquarters. Presumably, once you know what your passion is this will help determine which of these charities you will passionate about partnering with.

But how will you determine exactly what your people are passionate about? First, may I suggest that you determine whether your "people" is an all inclusive company group, or whether it is a committee, or just your top people. If you truly want to create your community involvement from passion, as much inclusivity as is possible from a practical point of view will create the most engagement.

Once you have sorted out the issue of who it is you want to involve, may I suggest a few steps to take to find your passion and create the action steps to execute a socially responsible plan that will deliver shared value to your company and the community.

Engage your employees in a dialogue that determines your company's values and creates a mission about which causes hold real meaning for your people. The more collective the vision, the more you engage them, the more engaged they will become. This is a process that can be facilitated in a variety if ways, either within your company or through an outside consultant trained in interactive facilitation methods.

Explore the opportunities within the community that are a best match with your company's values.

Study how some similar companies to yours in size, I am thinking companies like Give Something Back that have developed outstanding models for employee engagement in community involvement.

Define what "community" means to your company. Is it just the city the company is based in? Does it expand to the communities surrounding yours, where many of your employees live in?

Do you feel you a responsibility to the state, your country, or to the global community where many of your products reach?

Create a plan for community involvement that includes monetary donations,in-kind donations, employee volunteerism, with consideration to specific skills that your employees have that can be offered as pro-bono services.

These are a few ideas, but I am sure your talented and creative teams will come up with more, if you just give them the opportunity.

I look forward to seeing all the great things that will come out of this new relationship between you and our community.

Yours truly,
Your New Community