The business benefits of corporate philanthropy are numerous: Employees of generous companies tend to be more engaged, productive, and satisfied, and clients are drawn to firms with clear social missions. However, fostering a culture of giving is about much more than a firm’s bottom line — it’s about giving back to the local community. At their core, financial services firms are already driven to enhance clients’ lives by helping turn their long-term ambitions and dreams into a reality. In this way, financial advisory firms are in a particularly prime position to extend their mission of helping clients thrive to the broader notion of benefiting communities.
While in agreement with this concept, some financial advisors may feel that their practices are too small to support meaningful giving initiatives. However, corporate philanthropy doesn’t have to be large-scale to create real community impact. For example, advisors can focus on giving back to smaller, local nonprofits and organizations where every dollar donated, or minute spent volunteering, has a larger proportional impact. Moreover, by selecting a recipient organization with an ethos and mission that aligns with the company’s values, advisory firms can feel more confident knowing that their efforts are contributing to an especially meaningful cause. As an added benefit, this approach can elevate lesser-known organizations that may not otherwise receive as much support, while deepening the firms’ connections with the local community.
Regardless of their size, there are many attainable avenues for advisory firms to create corporate philanthropic opportunities that appeal to a wide range of individuals working at the company. One such option is to offer periodic personal volunteer days where employees can invest time in an organization or cause that they’re personally passionate about. Other employees may feel more compelled by internal opportunities, such as office-wide food, clothing or school supply drives, which can be as simple as placing a well-marked collection box in a communal area. Still others may feel most motivated to give back through donation matching programs, which can be organized in a feasible manner that does not put unbearable financial strain on the firm itself.
In addition to providing a wide variety of opportunities for philanthropic involvement, keeping an eye on local current events can help employers ensure that initiatives are relevant and timely — and thus more likely to gain traction with employees. Moreover, this approach can help advisory firms identify ways to amplify their philanthropic impact by contributing to existing initiatives. Perhaps another local business or nonprofit is organizing a fundraiser following a local natural disaster or a winter coat collection leading up to the holiday season. Flagging these types of opportunities in a brief note to employees is a non-resource-intensive way to further expand firm impact through community collaboration.
Giving to others and taking care of those in need are unifying acts of humanity that cut across party lines, geography and ethnicity. For advisors who are already constantly striving to enhance their clients’ lives, incorporating philanthropic ideals into their firms is a tactic that can simultaneously benefit the business itself and the larger community — regardless of how large or small a practice may be.
Gary Zyla is EVP, Chief Financial Officer and Human Resources Leader at AssetMark, Inc., an SEC-registered investment adviser.