Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Refreshing Approach to Community Involvement

Yesterday I attended a workshop sponsored by a community bank and my local PRSA chapter. The free workshop was intended for and attended by local non-profit/charitable organizations. I believe most had been invited by the bank.

Before the event began, I ran into a VP from the community bank. I told him I thought it was great his bank was supporting these organizations like this. He responded by telling me about a number of ways the bank is involved in the community, and he emphasized support for getting food and housing to those who cannot afford it.

I asked him how they determine which charitable organizations to support. He said they decide in a number of ways, but that ensuring people in the local community had food and shelter was just "the right thing to do."

I began to go into my pitch about the way to determine causes a corporation should support is to identify the causes the corporation's stakeholders care about. Then the organization supports these causes and lets the stakeholders know of this support. I, of course, can help them identify the right organizations.

But I stopped myself.

While the bank's approach struck me as simple in this complex day and age, I was struck by how honest and straightforward it was. The bank was helping organizations that help people get food and shelter, and, through this workshop, it was supporting a number of small charitable organizations survive during these challenging economic times. And the bank seemed to be thinking of it in terms of acting on a value rather than achieving a return on investment.

This touched me. So, instead of pitching him with my MBA-business driven approach, I complimented him on how refreshing their approach was and wished the bank success.

I'm also considering changing my account to that bank.

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