Almost every trucking company, whether it’s a five-truck operation or a 500-plus fleet, has been invited to sponsor or donate to something. Your decision to support any cause, whether it is to help a local slo-pitch team or contribute to a major capital project like a community hospital, should reflect your organization’s values rather than be based on impulse or pressure.Let’s start by making a case for why philanthropy is good business.
There are four key reasons to make helping a cause part of your business’ fabric:
1. Connecting your company to the community. Being a visible and contributing member of the community is good business. It will give you credibility by providing an opportunity to demonstrate that your organization is committed to enhancing community life. It may also provide opportunities to network with other like-minded, influential business and opinion leaders in your community.
2. Boosting employee morale. Employees respect companies that care about worthy causes and that increases their emotional attachment to the place they work. Research shows that Millennials, who are increasingly occupying more decision making roles both within your operation and those of your customers, value and expect businesses that give back in some way.
3. Raising awareness of your brand. Sponsoring an event, and even donating, connects your name with good works. Sponsoring something in your community where your business name is spotlighted could lead to bigger profits down the road.
4. Connecting with your customers. If you are selling your product or service to individuals who care about a cause, it makes perfect sense to support that cause too. For example, if your client base is a male demographic, then it makes sense to support a campaign that raises money for prostate cancer research. This is what the Canadian Trucking Alliance did when it became a champion of the Plaid for Dad campaign and mirrors perfectly a health concern that would likely interest a significant portion of its membership base.
So now that we’ve established that helping a worthy cause is good for business, not to mention good for the soul, how do you pick which causes to support?
The causes you support should align with your business’ values, most often laid out in your mission statement and/or communication plan. Does your mission statement say you care about the environment, family, or something else? Then you should make sure your donations go to causes that advance that. It’s an excellent idea to create a company policy that clearly outlines the nature of the causes you support (kids, sports, health, environment, etc.) and the process that charities need to go through to be considered, and how often the company evaluates applications – make it once or twice a year. This will save time and keep you focused on ensuring each application for funding is reviewed carefully, not in haste.
You should also mirror your customers’ values by finding out what they and other key stakeholders care about, and support those causes. If you have customers that are in the agricultural sector and it is a year of drought, partner with someone who makes hay and transport a truck load of hay to drought stricken horses and cattle in those areas.Your employees are your greatest ambassadors, and their labor contributes to your company’s ability to support worthy causes, so empower employees by inviting them to participate in a committee where decisions are made about which causes get funding.
Major disasters are another opportunity to put your commitment to people and community into action. Set aside a portion of your annual budget to assist with unexpected situations that arise. If you can also find a way to tangibly get involved by utilizing your transportation services to assist, do it.
Rebecka Freels, former CTA and OTA communications director, operates a Calgary-based marketing, communications, and events practice with clients in the transport industry. Reach her at Rebecka@beyondwordscommunications.com.