More so than ever before, the most successful, respected, and desirable companies exist to do much more than generate profits; they exist to use the power of commerce to solve social and environmental problems.
As businesses move towards being more responsible within the environments in which they operate, ensuring the needs all stakeholders are being met becomes increasingly complex. Younger employees are seeking purpose rather than profit; fulfilment rather than the smartest career choice and impact on the environment and community over traditional corporate ladders. Small businesses (SME's) account for 91% of formalises businesses and employee up to 60% of the labour force with an estimate 34% contribution to South Africa's GDP. Read more here: source.
With small and expanding firms creating no less than 90% of new jobs, by 2030, predicated by the NDP. Human Capital remains a responsible approach to service related industries, which account for over 80% of business - highlight by Daniel H. Pink, in his book Drive. Investing in talent and related market pools; specifically local communities.
SME's have the potential to make a difference in their local community with the collective efforts of their employees, rather than let government and corporate companies bare the burden and costs of building local communities, where improvements are required. Time and skills, something which we all have - which is in-fact free and readily available - in partnership with local Community Based Organisations, Non-Profits and NGOs is a one step approach to getting started.
Employees and SMEs can address issues that care about, and no one is stepping in with red tape.
Employee Volunteer Programmes( EVP) is a strategy that is used by corporate companies to keep staff engaged and to mobilise people behind CSI spend. Small Businesses should consider this and try commit to at least 8 hours a year of volunteering.
April's Responsible Business Week 24th - 28th April is a great way to kick start this.
What you and your employees can do:
Share passions and something staff are already involved in
Speak to your colleagues and employees, chance are they are already involved in supporting a local NGO - that is a good place to get started.
Find the closest NGO to you
Turn to online to find out what is closest to you and give them a call. Be sure to discover their needs before you rock up with your own agenda - it does not work like that. NGOs are generally much more stretched that Small Businesses. Be sure to listen and see if there is any genuine way in which you might be able to assist
Do something different, you might even get some PR exposure.
Sir Richard Brandson is a PR genius in this regard, from tight rope walk to jumping out of planes and that famous water skiing photo. Have fun brain storming this with your team and do something a little bit crazy. Keeping in mind it must always benefit the community, so be sure to be sensitive to what you are going to be doing.
Nominate a Volunteer Champion
Every great project needs a fierce team leader - when it comes to volunteering you need the strongest team leader. Pick a task orientated champion and give them the SMART objective.
Tips for Volunteer Champions: Get your dedicated volunteer champion to design and deliver a volunteer programme including internal and external elements, here is a quick guide:
Identification and preparation of beneficiary NPOs for the selected volunteer activities - ensure you'll be adding long term value
Concept and design of volunteer campaign including generating content for Internal communications - a strong call to action
Planning and implementation of external volunteer activities i.e. travel, meals and gear - make it your best event
Planning and implementation of internal volunteer activities i.e. desk drops, collection drives, donation packaging assembly, etc
Some Ideas of what to do
First connect with an NGO or contact organisations like, The Social Collective, who can help you manage the entire process. If you would prefer a youth focused programme, reach out to my hands and heart. Here are some ideas to get you excited to give your time to build your community
Infrastructure upgrades, if your budget allows
Establishing food gardens, how green are your fingers?
Career days for grade 10 to 12, remember choosing a career - there is a massive gap in community based career guidance, you could help change the course of a young persons life forever
Reading club for children, share a passion for reach and spark this in someone younger than you. You'll need to dust off your favourite childhood books for this
Why volunteer when you have work to do?
Volunteering is a cost effective way to boost employee morale, invest in your talent and local market and an added benefit is good PR - your customer want to know you care - what a great and cost effective way to show them.
You can also send your volunteer brief over to The Social Collective by contacting them here: firstname.lastname@example.org or call +27 87 551 7321, who work with NGOs and volunteer programmes. You can view some of the projects coming up in April by counting in by clicking here - if there is nothing there that suits you, create an account by click here and then add what you'd like to do by creating an opportuntiy here, pay a nominal fee and we'll send someone out to support you.