Serve Your Employees by Letting Them Serve

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It’s early afternoon at The Hodges Partnership, and there’s a conspicuous quietude, the kind that makes you suspicious, that gives you that feeling that something is going on, and you’re the only one not in on it.  “Where,” you think, “IS everyone?”  And then you remember, it’s PRSA lunch day. 

That our office clears out on such occasions is no surprise; in fact, it’s encouraged. We want our folks to not only take advantage of the professional development opportunities through PRSA but to get involved as leaders of the organization, and I’m proud to report that several of them are members of the board – VPs of this and that, treasurer – posts that keep them busy. 

But getting involved in our industry’s professional association is only part of how we see our staff’s role in the larger community. To the extent possible – understanding the many demands on young parents and the challenges they face in meeting their daily obligations before crashing into bed at night, their hands still sticky from a melted popsicle, their feet still inside their shoes – we encourage our team to find an organization in the region that they can contribute to.  For Sean, it’s coaching Benedictine’s baseball team. For Megan and Kelsey, it’s working with Massey Cancer’s young board. For Cameron, it’s supporting Cookies for Kids' Cancer with weeks’ worth of pro bono media relations. 

Emily spent years on SCAN’s junior board, and Tony served a term as the AdClub’s president.  Sean helped steer the Salvation Army as board president, and my 10 years on the SCAN board included two terms as president. And while I’ve cut back my board work, I’m proud to currently be serving on the boards of Impact Makers, a local B Corp consulting firm that has given more than $1 million of its after-tax profits to charity over the past several years, and of the Community Idea Stations, which for me is a labor of love. And while I’m at it, it’s worth mentioning that Jon and I are both proud graduates of Leadership Metro Richmond.

It borders on the cliché to say that it’s important to give back to the communities in which we live and work. But we believe that and try to live it by virtue of the time we give our team to pursue their interests and the financial commitment we make to go along with it.  Many of us enjoy an abundant quality of life in Richmond, but a great many of our neighbors do not.  Thankfully, Richmond has scores of nonprofit organizations committed to helping those in need, and it’s those organizations who count on professionals in the community to help take up their cause.

It’s my experience that marketing professionals are especially in need. Nonprofit organizations that are trying to make ends meet each month rarely have any budget for marketing, and guidance on helping them shape and convey their messages is often critical to their ongoing success.

Sometimes, it’s just sheer bodies that organizations need, so let me end by making a shameless plug for two such entities. Hands On Greater Richmond is basically a clearinghouse for volunteer opportunities, and Vanessa Diamond and her team have made it super easy to find a volunteer opportunity that fits your – or your company’s (team building anyone?) – interests. 

You might also start thinking about volunteering for Richmond 2015, the international cycling race that is quickly pedaling its way to Richmond in September.  You can create your volunteer account here.

Whatever your interests, there’s an organization that would love to have you as part of their extended family. And you just might run into someone from our family as well.

Josh Dare

Josh’s career in communications spans more than four decades. In addition to providing strategic counsel and crisis communications direction to clients, he is the resident Writer-In-Chief, regularly writing op-eds and bylines on behalf of clients that have been published in The Washington Post, The Richmond Times-Dispatch, The Philadelphia Inquirer and Huffington Post, among others.

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