Overview :

00:01 Jacalyn Holsted: You are listening to On Point Conversations. My name is Jacalyn Holsted, and I am a Content Strategist and Marketing Consultant for my own company, which is On Point Thinking. In a blog post recently, I wrote about, in fact, the name of the blog post, the title is “Showing Not Just Telling”, and it’s on my website onpointthinking.com. And it includes five questions to help an organization chart their community impact program. Do you have a community impact program for your business today? Have you had one in the past? This is a really good tool for those companies and organizations wanting to develop more of an impact in their community and doing it outside of what they’re selling and their products they’re selling. This charting impact framework actually came from my studying, the development of grant writing. I took college course on grant research and writing.

01:21 JH: And then I worked in the grant writing community for a while. I did grant writing and research. I was successful in some cases but now I do more for myself, but there are other companies that could use this kind of service, and if they’re a client, I work with them on how to develop the grant writing function and what to do as far as getting a grant. But as I was looking at this framework for another client, I was thinking, this is really the type of framework that would work for any organization that’s looking to develop a community impact program. Now, why would you develop a community impact program? Well, particularly now, and in the era of COVID-19, which is what we’re in now, businesses are really seeing a benefit of fulfilling needs and missions within their communities. There’s a number of benefits.

02:16 JH: These companies are not just focused on selling and profiting from their own products, but they’re looking at ways to demonstrate to the consumer, their current customers or potential consumers, the community as a whole, that they want to make a positive impact in their community by taking some of their time and their resources and their funds to making a difference. Now, when I talk about community in this sense, and taking this now grant writing framework into an organization, a business organization who’s looking at developing a community impact program, community is not just a local business, your local area that you market in. But I’m talking also about your entire community,, there’s a yoga community, that’s worldwide, there’s a health community, there’s a wellness community, there’s a cosplay community.

03:11 JH: There’s also local communities. When you’re doing a local, like a restaurant who focuses in on a certain population or a certain area. So communities can be as big or as small as you need or want them to be. Now, there are all kinds of reasons and benefits to a company about why to start or to do a community impact program. One of those is increasing your own brand awareness, a positive brand awareness, so you get noticed for the right reasons and you become more and have more of a reputation of a company of being human, of having some stories that are besides what you sell and lining your CEOs pockets, which it appears sometimes, that’s what a companies, all the companies are working for. But it’s really a way to look at how a consumer can look at your brand positively and be aware of your brand as being something that they have a good memory of. You can build trust within a community, so consumers want to see that your business is trustworthy, and by being trustworthy, it’s really looking at what can you do that doesn’t just make and line your pockets and make me a money, although that is important because you wouldn’t be doing a community impact program, if you didn’t have a business.

04:29 JH: But how do you help the local community? There’s also instances where you can forge alliances with some other businesses and that can make you stronger in the long run anyway, because it’s businesses that complement what you’re doing, or they’re suppliers or they’re people that can help you grow your business also. There’s the benefit of improving employee morale because volunteering is a good way for employees to connect, and there’s been many studies done that shows that there’s an improvement in employee morale if they feel they’re working towards a bigger goal and they’re working towards something that’s helpful in the community, and they can talk about that to their friends and their neighbors about what other things our company is doing. And that also goes into attracting talent, so if you’re looking for good talent for your company, which I hope you are, then being active in the community and being also active in knowing that, in portraying and providing yourself out there that talent is going to come to you because they’re going to want to work for you.

05:36 JH: So let’s take a look at this framework, and as I said, I’m taking, adapting this from the grant writing. And on grant writing, what you’re doing is you’re trying to get someone to provide money that you’re not paying back, that you’re using for a good cause. This is a lot of times done for non-profits, various agencies, and so the people who are granting money, who have the money, hold the purse strings want to know that what they’re doing and what they’re funding is making a difference in either the community or in the non-profit and the people at the community or that the organization is trying to target and protect.

06:21 JH: So the first question is, and let’s take this from a business standpoint, from your business standpoint, what is your organization aiming to accomplish? Well, I always think that being clear and concise and putting down the ultimate goal for what you want to accomplish, puts more of a structure and a solid concreteness to what you do and what you see as being your impact in the community. So now, when you talk about marketing, we’re talking about identifying target markets. And here we’re also talking about identifying the groups or communities that your business can assist, what needs you are going to be addressing and what you expect to come out of it. So you’re going to examine those goals and see how they fit within your overall goal, overall plan for making a valuable contribution to your community.

07:17 JH: Now, why are you doing that? Well, you’re doing that because you want to articulate your organization’s impact goals, so you’re really helping your employee and your consumer understand what your mission is, where you’re planning to help and your intended outcome, it gives a context and a purpose to the employees in your business day-to-day activities that surround that meaningful mission of how you’re going to do and what you’re going to do to impact positively your community. The second question in this framework, again, coming from the grant community, is what are your strategies for making this happen? This goes along with how we do marketing planning anyway, but it’s another way of looking at it, because now you’re looking at it from a standpoint of what you’re doing out in the community that’s creating good will, but not necessarily increasing profits, or at least not directly. Describe your organization’s activities, what are you going to do to accomplish these goals, what is your approach you’re going to take, what are you going to put forward to those, what actions are you going to take? Now, of course, again, why do we want to do that?

08:33 JH: Well, because when you clearly articulate your strategies, then that’s going to help both your outside resources, your consumers, your people out in the community, and your inside organization to really understand how you’re going to make this impact. So now you’re putting legs to your impact, you’re putting legs to your goal, this is what we’re going to do, and doing that provides good will and also trust in the fact that this is actually going to happen, and it’s very clearly identified what your benefits or what you want your benefits to be. So therefor the community as a whole is more forgiving, if you decide, “Well, that community impact is met and we’re going to do something else.” Or, “We need to take a different tact in order to meet that community need.”

09:23 JH: The third question in this is, what are your organization’s capabilities for doing this? We have large companies, we have small companies, we have one man companies, we have sole proprietorship, one woman companies, we have all different types of sizes of organizations. So when you look at what you want your impact to be or what your impact can be, you want to detail the resources, capabilities and connections that you’re going to use to support your progress toward those goals. So you want to look at what assets do you have? Now, some companies have lots of assets, but some companies don’t, so you look at what you actually have and you be realistic, you identify both from an internal resource standpoint and from an external resource standpoint, what you can contribute and how that’s going to work into those resources and tools that are needed to go back to accomplish your goal.

10:23 JH: The fourth question from again, charting impact, is how your organization know if you’re making progress. This is really important too for your own employees, for yourself, if you’re the pro sole proprietor for your community. How are you going to quantitatively or qualitatively indicate what’s working, what’s not working and how you’re going against in progressing toward that main goal that you developed in the beginning. There are qualitative messages, so things like, what did you do in order to make a difference, and then quantitative, you might be able to formulate numbers on how many people you’ve affected or what community have you affected.

11:10 JH: Why do you do that? Well, because goals generally take a while to fulfill. They’re not accomplished overnight, a goal that’s related to community impact could be quite a longer goal extension time, and you want to make sure that during that time and that you’re working towards it, that you have indicators and points along the way, steps that look at what your accomplishments are along the way. Therefor, you can see if you’re staying on track, you can see if you need to make some changes, and it also continues to instill that confidence and trust that you’re moving forward towards some kind of goal, your impact that you want to make.

11:58 JH: The last question in this charting impact is, what have you accomplished so far? Now, if you’ve just started your program, you probably haven’t accomplished much yet. If you’ve been doing something then you might have accomplished more at this point, but you want to look at your progress towards your goal, describe how… When you go back and look at your goal, what your current objectives, how they’re propelling your organization forward towards what’s the impact that you want to be or have. You want to look at what outcomes you’ve achieved and those not yet achieved, what has your organization learned about what doesn’t work, what does work, what risks and obstacles exist, what adjustments you need to make, strategies, objectives? So again, this is kind of a framework for how you look at what you’re going to do in the community, and I would stress that there’s a lot of positives coming out of companies who are doing things for the community, and it’s difficult sometimes to balance between how much promotion you want to use. Certainly, if you can use some of these things in public relations and getting your message out, you know that it’ll impact your brand positively, because people will see you working on this and will identify you with a certain type of impact, positive impact.

13:20 JH: And it also offers you a clear path, your employees’ clear path, to what is your organization doing in where we are right now, that’s helping outside of your own four walls or now as it is as we work out of our home offices, what the impact is. So really, seeing and feeling a difference in your business based on what you’re in your own community, it’s really a powerful impact, and seeing is believing and doing is better than just talking. So with clear, really clear actions and demonstrated progress, you’re going to get that good will within and outside your business environment, I would really challenge you to try this and you can start with a planning goal. Some of the companies that actually have been doing some things, and I’m thinking now towards COVID-19, I read that Home Depot and Lowe’s stopped selling N95 masks at the beginning of the pandemic, and then they actually gave those away with free charge to essential workers. The GAP did some things with gowns and things that they could make, and they were giving those to essential workers. There have been other types of things in the community where I’ve seen in our community where restaurants might be working together to promote an avenue of having people come into downtown, even though they’re now still having to eat outside and social distance and masks. But it’s still a sense of community.

14:55 JH: There have been different organizations that have put together food drives to give people food and help them along this difficult path, there’s been Starbucks and I don’t remember the exact program, but they’ve done some, putting a large amount of money aside to help their employees, if they have to have, go back for an education or they need some help during the time that they’re laid off or furloughed from their particular job. So there are companies that are doing things, and there have been companies in the past too, who’ve done things and donated things and has been sponsors of different types of organizations. I would challenge you though, at this point in time, to look at this a little bit differently now, and really look within the community that your company is working within, let’s say you’re a… This is just an example and because I have a yoga studio that I work with. Let’s say you’re a yoga studio and you offer streaming classes and online classes and classes to take during whatever time frame you have available, you have a library of classes, and maybe what you’re going to do is you’re going to go within the community and you’re going to give scholarships or scholarships to people who can’t afford to use your yoga practice at this time, knowing that people are stressed and this is a good yoga practice.

16:20 JH: Maybe you’re going to add something in a meditation standpoint for your yoga practice. Or maybe you’re doing something that is… That I have even thought of, ’cause there’s so many creative things a company can do. Again, you walk a fine line between beating your own drum, and I would caution you against that because it does sort of sound self-serving doing it that way, but you can use things like this in PR, and you will be getting your own public relations. PR, it’s public relations, you’ll be getting your own public relations outside of the community because people will talk about it. There certainly will be buzz, and when other people talk about what you’re doing outside of your company or even your employees, talking to their families or co-workers or people who they work with in the community, that extends your message too, and it extends your company name with a positive something impact in the community and takes it out of, we’re just interested in profits and how our product benefits you and selling.

17:30 JH: And that really expands your network and expands what you do, it makes you feel good about things. If you have any questions or you want me to talk more about something or you want to contact me, I have a contact form at onpointthinking.com, I read every one that comes through, so go ahead and send me your comments or your questions, or if you have an idea for another podcast that I can do, please let me know. Thank you so much for listening to On Point Conversations.