Compounding Your Volunteer Interest

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What volunteer efforts did your company participate in last year? How many team members were involved? How many residents? How did your suppliers support your efforts?  If you’re like many of the multifamily executives I have spoken with over the past 12 months, you can probably name a few causes that various properties supported, but you probably can’t talk numbers or impact.

Our industry is full of generous individuals, and these individuals organize a variety of practical and big-hearted events and programs each year. Organizations like Habitat for Humanity, Toys for Tots, local food banks, and homeless shelters are just some of the recipients of these efforts.

What I admire about the work that goes into these programs is that most are organized due to a true desire to help others in need. It’s not about recognition or competition. However, I’d like to challenge the notion of the quiet, one-off projects and focus on the bigger picture for the greater good.

Our culture is experiencing a significant shift in how we approach shopping for goods and services, look for work, or define entertainment or recreation. 67% of Millennials are more likely to buy from firms supporting good causes, and 75% of them would take a pay cut to work for a responsible company. We know that cause work has a significant impact on our employee and resident populations, so why are we so reluctant to share the programs that are in place and magnify, not only the awareness of the cause, but multiply the potential manpower to support it?

Case Study A

Company A has 20 communities throughout the Northwest United States. In 2017, nine of the communities initiated Food Drives on their own around the holidays. With the most common collection point being a giant cardboard box at the office entry, each of the nine communities was able to drop off a nice-sized collection of food. The managers each sent out a message of thanks to their residents for participation. The president of Company A was pleased to hear through the grapevine of some of these food drives, and, when asked, he guessed that his portfolio had probably donated around 300 lbs. of food, but he wasn’t sure. Each manager who ran a food drive provided an estimate of the amount of food collected at their property, and totals ran closer to 800 lbs. of food donated.

Impact:

-          Company A contributed approximately 800 lbs. of food to local food banks

-          6 of the 9 communities who conducted food drives took photos of the project

-          4 of the 6 communities posted photos with a public “Thank You” on their social networks to recognize the participants efforts.

-          9 of 20 community managers could articulate community outreach when asked about cause work by millennial job applicants.

-          2 prospective employees cited the participation in the food drives as one reason they applied

Case Study B

Company B has 15 communities throughout the Midwest United States. In 2017, the president of Company B shared a story he had read about the impact food insecurity had on families in some of their markets, and rolled out a plan for a holiday Food Drive. His challenge to the portfolio: To collect 1 ton (2,000 lbs.) of food as an organization.  Each community embraced the challenge and committed to a goal of contributing 135 lbs. of food toward the company goal. The corporate office reached out to its network of suppliers and invited them to participate in the food drive by dropping off donations at any of the communities or at the corporate headquarters. Property managers publicized the food drive throughout the community, on social media and created a link on the resident portal to invite residents to contribute funds to the local food bank in lieu of a donation of food, if they preferred. Some community managers even reached out to local merchants to post flyers inviting the local neighborhoods to participate in the drive as well. When the Food Drive ended, and the total donations reported in to the president, he was thrilled to share the news with all of their employees, residents, suppliers and investors, that Company B had collected 1.5 tons of food, as well as $625 dollars through the resident portal link.

Impact

-          Company B contributed 1.5 tons of food to local food banks and matched resident monetary donations, resulting in total of $1,250 sent to Feeding America

-          15 communities took photos documenting the project

-          15 communities posted photos with a public “Thank You” on their social networks to recognize the participants efforts and provide information on how to provide ongoing support.

-          The HR department and all 15 community managers could articulate community outreach when asked about cause work by millennial job applicants.

-          Residents have asked at several of the communities when the next food drive will take place.

-          23 prospective employees cited the participation in the food drives as one reason they applied

By identifying a cause, setting a sensible goal, and inviting participation from all stakeholders, Company B was able to not only collect and donate more food to help more people, it was able to create a dialogue and support a culture of caring. And that is something that resonates strongly with our culture today.

Want to know what causes are most important to your residents and employees to help jump start your CSR Program? Ask us for information on our CSR Score Program.

And don’t miss my interview with Laura Plato of Causecast, as she shares national trends in volunteerism this Thursday at 10 a.m. PST / 1 p.m. EST. Register for this free, 30-minute webinar HERE.