What volunteer efforts did your company participate in last year? How many team members were involved? How many residents? How did your suppliers support your efforts? If you’re like many of the multifamily executives I have spoken with over the past two years, you can probably name a few causes that various properties supported, but you probably can’t talk numbers or impact.
Our industry is full of generous individuals, and these individuals organize a variety of practical and big-hearted events and programs each year. Organizations like Hatching Hope, Habitat for Humanity, Toys for Tots, local food banks, and homeless shelters are just some of the recipients of these efforts.
What I admire about the work that goes into these programs is that most are organized due to a true desire to help others in need. It’s not about recognition or competition. However, I’d like to challenge the notion of the quiet, one-off projects and focus on the bigger picture for the greater good.
Our culture has experienced a significant shift in how we value purpose and giving back within our local communities. 83% of rental housing employees say agree that it’s important that companies are socially responsible, and 72% agree that it’s important their employer encourages volunteering and charitable giving. We know that cause work has a significant impact on our employee and resident populations, so why are we so reluctant to share the programs that are in place and magnify, not only the awareness of the cause but multiply the potential manpower to support it?
Case Study A
Company A has 20 communities throughout the Northwest United States. Pre-pandemic, at the end of 2019, nine of the communities initiated individual Food Drives around the holidays. With the most common collection point being a giant cardboard box at the office entry, each of the nine communities was able to bring in a nice-sized collection of food. The managers each sent out a message of thanks to their residents for participation. The president of Company A was pleased to hear through the grapevine about some of these food drives, and, when asked, he guessed that his portfolio had probably donated around 300 lbs. of food, but he wasn’t sure. Each manager who ran a food drive provided an estimate of the amount of food collected at their property, and totals ran closer to 800 lbs. of food donated.
- Company A contributed approximately 800 lbs. of food to local food banks
- 7 of the 9 communities who conducted food drives took photos of the project
- 6 of the 7 communities posted photos with a public “Thank You” on their social networks to recognize the participants’ efforts.
- 9 of 20 community managers could personally articulate community outreach when asked by job applicants about local volunteerism and giving back.
- 2 prospective employees cited the participation in the food drives as one reason they applied
Case Study B
Company B has 15 communities throughout the Midwest United States. Pre-pandemic in 2019, the president of Company B shared a story he had read about the impact food insecurity had on families in some of their markets and rolled out a plan for a Holiday Food Drive. His challenge to the portfolio: To collect 1 ton (2,000 lbs.) of food as an organization. Each community embraced the challenge and committed to a goal of contributing 135 lbs. of food toward the company goal. The corporate office reached out to its network of suppliers and invited them to participate in the food drive by dropping off donations at any of the communities or at the corporate headquarters. Property managers publicized the food drive throughout the community, on social media, and also created a link on the resident portal to invite residents to contribute funds to the local food bank in lieu of a donation of food, if they preferred. Some community managers even reached out to local merchants to post flyers inviting the local neighborhoods to participate in the drive as well. When the Food Drive ended, and the total donations reported were reported to the president, he was thrilled to share the news with all of their employees, residents, suppliers, and investors that Company B had collected 1.5 tons of food, as well as $625 dollars through the resident portal link.
- Company B contributed 1.5 tons of food to local food banks and matched resident monetary donations, resulting in total of $1,250 sent to Feeding America
- 15 communities took photos documenting the project
- 15 communities posted photos with a public “Thank You” on their social networks to recognize the participants’ efforts and provide information on how to provide ongoing support.
- The HR department and all 15 community managers could personally articulate community outreach when asked by job applicants about local volunteerism and giving back.
- Residents have asked at several of the communities when the next food drive will take place.
- 23 prospective employees cited the participation in the food drives as one reason they applied
By identifying a cause, setting a sensible goal, and inviting participation from all stakeholders, Company B was able to not only collect and donate more food to help more people, but it was also able to create a dialogue and support a culture of caring. And that is something that resonates strongly with our culture today.
As we enter this season of giving, take this opportunity to discover a cause that resonates with your team members, then rally your entire team around that single goal or cause. Invite participation from all stakeholders to not only gain greater success but to create common ground when there are so many issues that can separate us.
We are an industry with a lot of heart. Remember that it’s so much more beneficial to not only celebrate that heart but elevate and magnify it.