As the years roll on, giving occupies a greater and greater place on my priority list. Each year, our company allocates a certain amount of money toward giving, and then we decide where that money should go. In past years, we had always selected local non-profits that were near to our hearts. However, these decisions were always made by the owners of the company. In recent years, we have attempted to get our field managers and branch operations teams involved in giving. The goal was to create a culture of giving across the organization. Initially, we accomplished this by allowing each branch to select a charity and donate a percent of their profits to that charity of choice. While this was a move in the right direction, it still seemed rather ineffective in altering the culture of our team. Then something happened at our annual off-site meeting.
About 20 people from our leadership team sat in a large conference room in downtown Evansville, IN. The question was raised: “How can we get the whole company, from top to bottom, excited about being a part of a culture of loving, serving, and giving?” The discussion narrowed in on giving as we explored ways to give on the branch level. Ideas ranged from local charities to overseas mission organizations. However, one of our managers piped up and said, “I’ll just be honest. Our people, especially the cleaners, just don’t care about this.” He then went on to ask a question I can’g get out of my mind. “Why are we giving money to charities outside the organization when we have tremendous needs right under our noses? ”
I had never really thought of it, but he was right. While I don’t know the circumstances of every cleaner who works in our company, I am confident that most of them have real needs, even significant needs. In an effort to be a more generous company, we had missed the real needs RIGHT UNDER our own noses. Once this realization dawned on us, the conversation immediately turned to how we could serve our own people well before we start thinking about the rest of the community. As parents should provide for their own children before helping other kids, so too should our company help its own people first.
Circling back around to my title, we do continue to give to local charities. Our giving is targeted and intentional, and we plan to continue. However, a new emphasis has emerged, one I’m excited to see grow and flourish. So my challenge to you is this: what needs do you have WITHIN your organization and how could you be generous to meet those needs?