5 Best Practices for Setting Up Your Community Outreach Program
Most of us contribute to charitable causes, but how organized are our efforts? You might give pocket change at random as the collection buckets appear in the break room, but without a definitive charity plan for your agency, you could be missing out on opportunities to really help your local community, to build esprit de corps on your team, and to create client rapport and trust.
Here’s expert advice on how to launch and maintain a great corporate outreach program that will benefit everyone in your organization.
The primary motivator for any charity program is a compassionate desire to do the right thing—to be of service and to donate time and resources to those who cannot return your generosity.
For insurance and financial planning organizations, giving back and being a good corporate citizen is one of the hallmarks of good business practice, according to ThinkAdvisor.
Less often noted, ThinkAdvisor states, is the positive effect participating has on your resilience, personal satisfaction, and productivity.
Start with These 5 Ingredients
Your outreach program will benefit from the following core components, recommended by Dwan Tabor, customer service manager for CBLife and leader of Global Bankers Insurance Group’s community outreach team.
1. Executive support.
You want top management to believe in your mission and vision, and that’s helped us at Global Bankers, says Tabor, who adds that company leaders participate in community outreach efforts in their personal lives, so “they’re really supportive of bringing that into our company culture.”
2. Soft blueprint of your vision.
Your vision will evolve over time, but it’s going to start with what Tabor calls “a soft blueprint.”
For example, “we didn’t know where community outreach would take us, but our CEO knew he wanted to focus on Durham,” she shares. That direction “gave us a lot to work with and a great starting point.”
Identify a special focus as your starting point. You could decide that your priority is local community causes or you could concentrate on wider issues like hunger or the environment, says Tabor.
“Once you have a beginning point, the rest of your plans can evolve organically over time.”
3. A dedicated leader and community of associates.
Choose a director and create a core team that’s passionate about outreach and functions collaboratively, Tabor advises. You need a healthy exchange of ideas to build a top-notch outreach program.
You want a leader who can ideate and delegate so that duties such as setting up a distribution list, making phone calls and gathering ideas are covered, Tabor adds.
4. Company participation.
Set up a good communications system so you’re sure your colleagues attend the events you plan. You’ll need help promoting your efforts, says Tabor, so you want to collaborate with your marketing team and HR to ensure they’re making everyone in your organization aware of what you’re doing and helping you with social media, for instance.
If you send out mass invites, follow-up with conversations about the event to keep the momentum going, advises Tabor.
The Global Bankers outreach team generated interest in a charity effort called “pay it forward month” by making little cards explaining what it meant to ‘pay it forward’ and putting these on everyone’s desks and passing them around the office, shares Becky Reisinger, vice-president of operations for CBLife.
The cards weren’t a promotion of a specific event but instead promoted pay-it-forward collaboration around the office by keeping that idea at the forefront of people’s minds, she adds.
Providing products with your company logo such as tee shirts, hats—any type of swag—is important. It’s surprising how much these things matter to both your team members and those outside your organization.
You’re likely to create a following among office colleagues. Your team can serve a two-fold purpose, says Reisinger, by keeping the events in the forefront and encouraging buy-in from other people in the company.
“The more people we have involved, the more impact we’re going to be able to make and the more of a priority outreach efforts are going to be for everybody.”
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