One of the core responsibilities of any business leader is to motivate the team. They must keep team members engaged and give them reasons to feel good about their employer. Today, it’s no secret that more team members, especially from younger generations, want to work for a company that is dedicated to more than just themselves.
Many members of today’s workforce want to serve a higher purpose. Instead of focusing solely on generating profits, they expect corporations to share their values and use their resources to serve their communities and benefit society as a whole. When we interview potential team members at Prager Metis International , they often reference charitable efforts highlighted on our website and appreciate that philanthropy is an important part of our culture.
That’s where corporate philanthropy must begin. It’s one thing to buy tickets to a gala or sponsor an event. However, the greatest impact is achieved when philanthropy and giving are engrained in the corporate culture. It needs to be more than another bullet point on your list of responsibilities; helping others should be part of who you are. When these efforts are driven by a genuine desire to do good rather than a self-serving desire to gain praise and publicity, the causes you support win, and your organization wins.
Let’s face it. Society often takes a negative view of corporations. While some companies have earned a less-than-stellar reputation, corporate philanthropy is responsible for everything from cutting-edge research programs to educational scholarships to children’s hospitals. While corporations make a difference every day, there also needs to be a greater focus on being a good citizen every day, not just when the cameras are flashing.
That said, doing good is certainly good for business. Team members are more engaged. Corporate philanthropy and giving can help you recruit and retain top talent. Clients and business partners see your company as a more trustworthy organization that cares about real people. Every fundraising event and every story of impact that you helped make possible will enhance your brand. More than a profit-maker, your organization is perceived as a difference-maker and a valued member of the community.
How Prager Metis International Created and Cultivated a Corporate Philanthropic Program
At Prager Metis International, we launched a corporate culture initiative to better define what we represent as a company. We brought in an external consultant to review our current culture, help us determine if our culture was what we wanted it to be, and measure our efforts against our goals. We surveyed our entire organization to make sure the culture envisioned by senior leadership was supported by our team. The survey results made it very clear that giving back to the community was a high priority for everyone.
Because corporate giving is such an integral part of our culture, we decided to take our commitment one step further; in July of 2019 we formed our own 501(c)(3) organization, The Prager Metis Charitable Foundation. The foundation coordinates and supports philanthropic fundraising and programs across the firm.
Prager Metis International has two segments of corporate giving. For several years, we’ve been a national sponsor for The Alzheimer’s Association, raising money for Alzheimer’s research, caregiving, and political action. My father suffered with Alzheimer’s for 10 years and I saw firsthand how difficult it was for him and my mother as the caregiver. David Neste, our Chairman of the Board, also lost his father to Alzheimer’s.
In addition to the personal connection several of us have with the disease, Prager Metis International chose to support The Alzheimer’s Association at the corporate level because, unlike most chronic diseases, there is no treatment to slow the progression. There is no simple test to diagnose. Unfortunately, the best day an Alzheimer’s patient has is often the day they find out they have the disease. After that, it only gets worse. We felt Alzheimer’s patients and caregivers urgently needed our help.
Along with supporting the annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s, the teams at our 15 offices work tirelessly throughout the year, organizing golf outings, staff talent auctions, bake sales, scavenger hunts, bike-a-thons, pop-up shops, and other fundraising events. We also have multiple team members serving on Boards and committees of local association chapters. I’m proud to say that, over the lifetime of our support, Prager Metis International has raised over $500,000 for The Alzheimer’s Association.
The work we do at the community level is just as important as our support for The Alzheimer’s Association at the national and global level. That’s why we have local giving programs for each individual office. Community-based nonprofits are chosen by the teams in local offices, which then coordinate programs throughout the year to support those nonprofits. Additionally, many of our Partners and team members sit on Boards for a wide variety of charitable organizations from Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and The Piatigorsky Foundation to Cancer Hope Network and Make a Smile Foundation. I want to take a minute to thank our team for the steadfast dedication our team members show to the organizations they support.
Find Your Purpose First
Our giving initiatives are aligned with our organizational culture, the values of our team members, the communities we serve, and the causes we support. We’ve implemented a model that works for us and, more importantly, has allowed us to make a real difference.
I encourage your corporation to implement a philanthropic program that works for you. Find your purpose. Get involved with your community. Mobilize your workforce and empower them to shape your program. Be a good corporate citizen. Seek outside help if necessary to ensure a cohesive, effective plan. I am available to speak or meet with you – please reach out to me if you are interested.
Most importantly, though, commit to making philanthropy part of your corporate culture – because doing good is good for everyone.