Friday, June 25, 2010

Philanthropy and business

Everyone likes to give. Even in this decade, in the worst recession some generations have ever experienced, corporate giving has varied by less than 5% between 2008 and 2010, according to news reports.
And some law firms have upped the number of hours they'd like to see their attorneys spending on pro bono cases, a trend that started early in the recession and continues to this day.
Why? In the case of law firms, experts say that working on pro bono causes helps young associates to feel brighter and better about their futures. And in many cases, corporations are looking for ways to help their employees feel good about the places they spend 40-60 hours a week.
PepsiCo, for instance, has pledged its advertising dollars to a crowd-sourced competition called "Refresh Everything" that allows true democracy to pick worthwhile causes: Once a month, you and your friends can vote for a cause to win $5,000; $25,000; $50,000; or $250,000. Yeah. Once a month. We know a Pepsi employee, someone who's been with the company for close to ten years now, and we now hear him say, almost daily, that he's proud to work for them. Pretty cool stuff.

At The Hub, we're proud of where we work for more than a few reasons, but we're particularly proud of our connection to philanthropy: One of our founders, Bill Decker, is an avid volunteer for, and a board member of, an international disaster-relief group called ShelterBox. When a disaster happens, Bill gets a phone call. And if he can take time off from his work and his family, he's off to the area of disaster within 24 hours, distributing aid directly into the hands of people who need it the most.

Why? What makes philanthropy such a great thing for corporations--and leaders of corporations--to get involved in?
The answer is two-fold. First, it builds community. If a company can rally around a cause, claim it as something it's deeply interested in, that cause becomes a focal point for all of its employees.
Second, it gives back to the community. We've explored before how important it is for us to support our local economy through simple steps like purchasing local; now apply that in a more tangible sense. If you can give back to your community as a business, you have pride of ownership in your community.
In the end, everyone wins.
At the Hub, we've started a new program that allows all full-time employees to take up to 16 hours per year of paid leave to provide volunteer services within the greater Philly area. That non-profits in Philadelphia, Southern New Jersey, and Delaware that focus on human, educational, environmental, or public safety community needs can benefit from our great employees.
We know why we do it: Our employees are happier for it. And it's the right thing to do.

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