Recent studies are showing that volunteer rates in America are on the rise. A 2012 study by the U.S. Corporation for National and Community Service found that two-out-of-three citizens serve their communities today and those numbers are increasing each year. Sociologists believe we are seeing a shift in many parts of the country where people are returning to focusing on their smaller communities, through supporting local goods and services, as well their local nonprofits.
Why is this important to national franchises? Any smart business should follow sociological trends. Therefore, national franchise systems are challenged to create a local presence in their community. People want their neighbor Doug running the shop down the road, contributing to the local economy, and therefore national franchises should encourage their independent locations to run as such. The way to do this is through community outreach.
Community outreach shows the public that you ARE a part of the community. While you may be part of a large national company, you are living, working, and investing in the individual communities you serve. By franchise systems partnering with local charities, they show the community that they care about the individual communities they operate within.
“Building a Company Culture for Community Outreach” a recent article in Franchising World, by Robert A. Funk, gives guidelines for how to go about making community relations an important part of your business’s culture. Here are a few I especially liked:
1) Communicate Core Values
First and foremost, you have to set direction, with both a mission and a vision. Market yourself as a philanthropic company, and use social media to show what you’re doing for your local charities.
2) Financial Contributions
At the corporate level, franchises can supply grants to community projects, as well as local initiatives and programs that support their charitable mission.
3) Engage Your Customers
People want to purchase from a business that is sincere and authentic about giving. Franchises can ask customers to directly donate to the cause, making them feel just as much a part of the giving as the franchise itself.