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Three Steps to Right-Size Community Involvement for Your Organization

by Suzanne Licata

I hope you’re proud of yourself for the times you’ve said ‘yes,’ when all it meant was extra work for you and was seemingly helpful only to somebody else.”  – Fred Rogers

Fred Rogers set a pretty high standard when it comes to being a good neighbor – always other focused, willing to come alongside to do the hard things, acting with kindness. It is aspirational and a yardstick by which we at Curry measure ourselves as we serve in the community.

It is a sweeter way to look at giving back to your community than how it is often positioned, for business, as a strategy to advance the corporate cause:

“Community involvement increases brand awareness. It makes your business visible, allows people to get to know your brand, product or shop better, and helps you create a reliable, trustworthy and generous business image.” – 2018 Atlanta Small Business Network

While true, community involvement also can be transformative for the employee experience; essential for the growth and well being of the people, businesses and non-profit service organizations around you; and the building blocks of the quality of life you want for you and your family.

At Curry Real Estate Services we wholeheartedly encourage community involvement by each member of our team and, as a Curry team. Over the years, Team Curry has painted school rooms; cleaned out overgrown yards and vacant lots; packed lunches; collected cans, coats, cash and school supplies; modeled, walked, paraded, run and golfed; cleaned school equipment; cleared and remodeled outdoor spaces, and more.

Just for fun, we had our office staff track their community involvement for the month of September. Over those 21 work days, 16 of our team supported 18 professional, civic or charitable organizations at 25 different events taking 171.5 hours to do so. Madness, you say? Possibly, but we have our methods.

“Always look for the helpers. There will always be helpers.” – Fred Rogers

There is no end to community need and each cause is worthy in its own way. If you are to reap business rewards while sewing community goodness, it helps to create some guidelines:

Build service capabilities

Does your team know how to run a meeting? Roberts Rules of Order? The difference between a board’s role in governance and policy and the staff’s role in operations? How to fundraise? What about fiduciary responsibility, personal liability or conflict of interest?

In-service training on how to be a good volunteer whether as ad hoc, on a standing committee or as a board member, immeasurably improves the volunteer experience and the benefit to the recipient organization.

Match community needs to company interests.

Do you know what your leaders have designated as your community’s highest needs? Find out. Involve your employees and have some meet with a select few leaders for coffee. Its energizing, great networking and your team will learn the priorities, big picture and small.

Do you know what matters to your organization and its people? Does your product or service naturally lend itself to a particular need? Is there an area about which many, if not most, of the team is passionate? Compare these two and see how it guides you.

Develop a criteria funnel

It is easy to say yes and difficult to say no to a non-profit’s request for your aid. Having criteria allows the decision making to be as much about how the non-profit fits your guidelines as whether you can or will step up. Criteria can include any number of things but it is best to limit it to five to seven items, such as:

  • Focuses on a certain sector (health, children, elderly, education, arts, barriers to employment…)
  • Many of our employees or customers are passionate about this need.
  • It is underserved so the company’s role could be transformational.
  • The organization has a method of reporting its outcomes.
  • There is an opportunity for leadership.
  • The organization has an on-boarding process.
  • Service is term limited, encouraging continual recruitment of new talent.

“We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility.: – Fred Rogers

Community involvement is a good thing. Make it better with a plan.


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