Forget what you've heard -- most business owners are actually very giving people.
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They are also interested in creating a "culture of giving" in their business. But what's a culture of giving? And how do you create one?
A culture of giving is a company culture in which the owner, the employees, and the business itself actively participate in giving back to their community. Ideally, the act of giving back becomes so ingrained in the business that the company stakeholders create their own buzz around giving back, and even suggest new giving initiatives on their own – without the constant prodding of the owner.
Although it takes time and effort to create a culture of giving in your company, here are just a few of the things you can do to get the ball rolling . . .
Model a Giving Attitude
A giving culture begins by modeling giving to the people your business employs. A business owner who talks about giving – but leads like Ebenezer Scrooge – isn't going to win many people over to his point of view. However, that's not to say you have to let your employees walk all over you, either. Instead, your goal should be to treat your employees with ample amounts of respect, fairness, and generosity.
As a giving business owner, there are undoubtedly some causes you are passionate about. But do your employees know what those causes are? And do they understand why your causes are so important to you? To truly participate in your company's culture of giving, your employees first need to be educated about who they are giving to and why it is important. Most nonprofits are well-equipped to discuss their cause, so you might want to consider inviting a represent to speak at a staff meeting or company event.
Some companies require their employees to donate a small percentage of their salary to charity as a way of enforcing full participation in a giving company. But too often, mandatory donations become more about listing 100% participation in the company's annual report and less about engaging the company's stakeholders in the act of giving. A better approach is to create opportunities for employees to make financially contributions, but leave the actual decision in their hands.
In a giving culture, there is no substitute for hands-on helping in the community. Many cities already have community-wide giving days where companies send their employees into the field to work on the behalf of others. If your city doesn't have this kind of event, consider starting one – or at least start one for your business. And remember: As a giving employer, you should still plan on paying your employees for the day's work instead of requiring them to use a vacation day.
A giving company culture hinges on the idea that everyone is in it together. To help cement its importance in your business, consider incorporating your giving activities into your company's annual goals and planning process.