01 Nov Do More Than Vote: The Business Benefits of Community Service
As we contemplate fulfilling our civic duty by voting next week, we may take comfort in knowing that it’s not our only opportunity to improve our communities. For local businesses, it is a corporate responsibility to ensure that the communities in which we operate are strong and healthy. This community building can provide a favorable economic climate in which businesses can thrive, create goodwill among potential customers, and engage employees through team-building opportunities. A core value that Focus Data Solutions embraces is giving back to the community, and we find great value in supporting a number of worthy Alexandria charities and organizations.
There are several ways for businesses to get involved in community service: sponsoring events, volunteering, and taking on leadership responsibilities within organizations, to name a few. Whatever your favorite cause or however much time or talent you have to give, there is an opportunity in community service that will suit you. Our own experience provides some good examples of the many options and benefits of civic engagement:
First Night Alexandria: FDS is a corporate sponsor of First Night Alexandria, a non-profit organization that puts on an annual community New Year’s Eve celebration highlighting the performing arts. The venues include local retail stores, churches, museums and public buildings. The event is family-friendly, alcohol-free, affordable, and safe. Both of FDS’s co-founders have served on First Night’s board of directors.
ACT for Alexandria: ACT is a community foundation that encourages philanthropic giving to support local non-profits that serve the most vulnerable in the community. Its programs also promote civic engagement and leadership development. At FDS, we especially like their focus on children and education. FDS supports ACT with sponsorships and individual donations throughout the year.
Rebuilding Together Alexandria: This non-profit seeks to improve communities by supporting safe and affordable housing opportunities as well as revitalizing neighborhoods by improving common spaces and schools. Our company’s involvement in Rebuilding Together grew out of the interest of one of our employees who made us aware of their good work. We took the opportunity to support another employee’s interest in this charity, and she currently serves as chairman of Rebuilding Together’s board.
Run! Geek! Run! In September, FDS put together a team to run in a 5K to support Capitol Post, an organization that offers local veterans guidance through mentoring, business counseling, and access to key resources. We learned about the opportunity from our business neighbor, Ironistic, one of the race sponsors. Not only did our participation foster a stronger business relationship and help veterans, it also proved a great team-building adventure for our staff, on the day of the race and in the weeks leading up to it.
Food Drive: In another effort to encourage “giving back” and reinforce our company’s culture of community service, FDS engaged our employees in a food drive last fall. Our efforts supported the Carpenter’s Shelter, an organization that cares for the homeless in Alexandria. The food drive offered an opportunity for each member of our staff to contribute to a charitable effort, and we also were able to celebrate Thanksgiving together as a team helping those in need during the holidays.
Alexandria Chamber of Commerce: Within the first week of our company’s founding, FDS applied for membership in the Chamber. While joining trade associations may not provide the same satisfaction as philanthropy, the Chamber membership has proven a great way to stay in tune with the community’s needs and find opportunities to get involved and work collaboratively on local issues. FDS’s president even served as chairman of the Chamber in 2008 and currently serves on the government relations committee.
Corporate philanthropy and civic involvement have always been core values for FDS and ingrained in our culture. For us, it is important to give back to the community that gives so much to us in the way of business and good will. Our engagement has made our team stronger, and it is especially important to the millennial members of our staff. We all enjoy giving back to others, beyond managing their bits and bytes.
For business, community service is well worth the effort. So, go to the polls and vote on November 8th, but don’t make that your only effort to improve the quality of life in your community.