Here’s the scenario: you’re doing great things at your company, making dreams come true for your clients, giving the best advice and service you can. Your clients thrive, so you and your business thrive. But sometimes you wonder: what about reaching the demographic that needs your help the most? In our industry, we tend to meet savers when they’re nearing – or already are at – the top of the game of life. Like most of us, you know you have the tools to help, but you just don’t know where to start. If you’re thinking about a corporate philanthropy program at your company, luckily, some of the best ways to give back in your professional life are actually right in front of you:
- Build a Product for a Struggling Group – Look at your service offerings. Is there a way you can incorporate a product – or underwrite an existing product – that is specifically aimed at helping a particular group? A good example of this is the credit-building microloan. There are organizations out there extending small lines of credits to domestic violence victims, at-risk youth, small businesses owned by people of color, women in poverty around the world and other marginalized demographics. Pacific Community Ventures, a Bay Area group that seeks to better the situation of small businesses through grants and loans, introduced a microloan program in 2016 citing the statistic that 54% of small business entrepreneurs of color who apply for loans are rejected.
- Helping Heroes – Hiring returning veterans just makes sense: you get an employee with a demonstrated work ethic, someone willing to take risks and a veteran returning from combat gets stability and a solid paycheck. There are potential added fiscal rewards in the form of corporate tax credits for hiring veterans, too. Something as simple as posting your firm’s job listings on VetJobs can get the ball rolling. Heavy hitters have already stepped up: JP Morgan’s Veteran Jobs Mission initiative has linked a network of companies who pledge to hire collectively 100,000 veterans by 2020.
- Get the Office Involved – The smallest and most obvious way to get your business giving back is to sponsor events like charity races, little league teams, bike-a-thons, dance-a-thons, community clean-up days, and so on. These are also great team-building events as well. Some companies like Salesforce, Deloitte, and VMWare are offering paid time off for workers to engage in charitable endeavors outside the workplace. Voya Financial even offers a whopping 40 hours of paid volunteer time off to employees annually. Not sure what opportunities are around in your area? Philanthropic opportunity aggregators like VolunteerMatch.com are a good place to start.
- Money, Not Things – Suze Orman had a saying on her long-running consumer financial advice show: People First, Then Money, Then Things. Seizing on the people-and-money-over-things part of that philosophy may be a wise decision at the holidays. Handing out thank-you trinkets to top clients at year-end might seem like good practice, but if you’re trying to put a primary focus on helping people in your business philosophy, try the donation route. Donating in your client’s names instead of shipping off the usual bottle of wine or carb-laden gift basket shows you’re thinking of what you’re earning for your clients as more than just the means to a material end, and brings your financial year to a feel-good close.
- Pro Bono Work – Just as lawyers can donate their legal services, so too can financial professionals! The industry is uniquely positioned to help a wide swath of the population who just haven’t been taught how to handle their money. Although it should be taught in schools before turning students loose to face credit card and student loan applications on their own, it isn’t, and maybe that’s where your knowledge of the ins-and-outs of finance can come to good use. Most Americans couldn’t cover a $1,000 surprise emergency expense if one arose – if your advice could make the difference, perhaps that’s the greatest donation of all.
The bottom line is that there’s no wrong way to give. We’d like to hear from you: what are your favorite ways to give back to your community? How are you paying your successes forward? Connect with us on Twitter @InvestInOthers.