The Corporate Value of Giving Back

Enabling a culture of community service empowers your people and supports the community in which you exist.

Social responsibility is something that our team feels very passionately about; it’s a big part of who we are and what we work toward. So a group of us got together to talk about ways that we can do more with our resources, reach, and incredibly passionate people to have an impact.

We wanted to go beyond what many of us were already doing as individuals, to inspire and encourage others at our company, and beyond, to do good. So we launched an internal initiative supporting social good across our offices. We called it #definekind because we wanted people to step back and think about how they truly define what kindness means.

Location leads across each office collaborated to organize a series of service events. And as a company, we sent communications reminding people that we offer community service hours to give back and do good.

What we saw transpire was beyond inspiring.

People embraced #definekind more than any other internal campaign we’ve had. Teams organized together and invited everyone to attend. We saw everything from beach clean-ups to volunteering at food banks, prepping food to feed the homeless, and charity shopping sprees. Friends and family joined in. And, our team volunteered to use money previously allocated for engagement activities like happy hours, birthdays, and farewells —to instead buy gifts for kids in need.

This campaign reinforced something that tends to fall in the background of company culture: The importance of giving back. Many organizations claim to have a commitment to social responsibility, but too often it ignores the importance of community service in local communities. We wrote about the importance of social responsibility in building experiences as well, and we still believe that is hugely important. But translating to your people, and involving them in actionable ways they feel passionate about is critical. It might not always happen organically. And yes, it takes support. So offer your team community service hours. And sometimes, it takes encouraging and reminding. So provide the resources to ignite it. And when you actually plant a seed, team up, and work together to have a positive impact, here’s what you’ll see happen.

1. It strengthens and creates relationships among people within the organization who don’t normally interact. Different locations worked as a team across all of our offices to not just talk, but actually do. Why was this? Because we were united by a common cause. Giving back to our communities is, unsurprisingly, something we all believe in and value.

2. We were able to talk, laugh, share, and ideate around new ideas without being confined to the walls and routine of the office, ultimately expanding our capacity to think, build, and create.

3. We often underestimate how empowering it is to be a part of something that can have an impact on your community. Better yet, how empowering it is to know that you’re supported for wanting to do so. We felt a sense of pride from being socially responsible. These feelings translate into a greater appreciation for being part of an organization that supports this.

4. Doing community service is humbling. Maybe it even gives us a tinge of a reality check to struggles beyond our own. It reminds us of how fortunate so many of us are, and renews appreciation and understanding for others who are faced with greater challenges and struggles than our own.

Our #definekind initiative reinforced something that organizations often overlook. It reminded us just how much value the local, people-driven force of social responsibility has within an organization. It reminded us of who we are and what we value as individuals — and there’s nothing more powerful than that. Our takeaway and our call to action is simple: Encourage and support your teams to go out and do good, because there is so much to be learned beyond the confines of your walls.

How do you #definekind?

Lauren Willey is Social Media Coordinator at Level, a purpose-driven digital design firm. Follow us on twitter to continue the conversation.