For many companies, giving back to the community is much more than a PR campaign. Community service is woven into their company culture. That’s true now more than ever due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

What’s most impressive about this corporate commitment to community service? It’s that many organizations are adapting to current conditions. They recognize the need for involvement doesn’t stop just because of the crisis. If anything, the demand has grown.  

In this blog post, I take a look at what companies are doing to continue their commitment to giving back to the community during the pandemic. I’ll also take a look at the rewards inherent in corporate community service. Besides enriching their employees’ lives and those who live in their community, companies and charitable organizations receive tangible digital marketing benefits. 

ENRICH THE LIVES OF OTHERS

Andrew Carnegie once said, “No man can become rich without himself enriching others.” Mr. Carnegie’s comment suggests that a fulfilled life doesn’t necessarily just come from within. It stems directly from helping others who are in need.  

Taken on a larger scale, Mr. Carnegie’s comment underscores the mutually beneficial relationship between companies and charitable organizations. For companies, promoting community service opportunities to their workforce provides a convenient way for employees to volunteer their time. This in turn offers charities and community-based organizations much-needed awareness and a motivated workforce. 

The simple act of volunteering provides employees with a sense of pride in themselves and their employers. It also offers employees the potential to meet new people.

Stephanie Watson wrote in the Harvard Business Review, “Studies have shown that volunteering helps people who donate their time feel more socially connected, thus warding off loneliness and depression…A growing body of evidence suggests that people who give their time to others might also be rewarded with better physical health—including lower blood pressure and a longer lifespan.”

COVID-19’s IMPACT 

During the pandemic, the public’s faith in corporate America has eroded. According to the 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer, “Only 38 percent believe business is doing well or very well at putting people before profits. ” 

Companies can counter this trend by making it easy for employees to do volunteer work. 

For example, consider the program offered by Solstice Consulting Group. According to glassdoor.com, the firm offers employees “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (FBDO), which is an extra PTO day which allows Solsties to play hooky together. The only rule? They must do something epic! “We exist to prove what humanity is capable of.”

COVID-19 has also caused some firms to pivot and adapt past methods of giving back. Brew City Marketing (BCM)  is a good example. Before the pandemic, BCM employees volunteered at Next Door, an award-winning early education provider that focuses on improving literacy and school readiness for children in Milwaukee’s central city.

Brew City Marketing employees volunteering to help promote literacy for Next Door Elementary

However, Next Door limits the number of visitors to its facilities as a precautionary measure to help slow the virus’s spread. Consequently, BCM is unable to do their quarterly visits to read to the toddlers.

They’re hosting a book drive instead! From October 1-31st, they’ll have a bin outside their front door where people can drop off new and gently used books for infants, elementary, middle, and high school children, as well as books targeted for adults, which will be distributed through Next Door’s Community and Little Free Libraries. They’re unable to accept discarded library books, reference books, textbooks, and damaged books. 

Amanda Dalnodar, the BCM CEO, observed, “When the children get to choose a book after the reading events, it’s fun to see their excited little faces. They take pride in ownership of their new book. The love of reading and books can never start too young – even reading to infants is beneficial for their growth and development.” Amanda Dalnodar of Brew City Marketing reading a book to a child at the Next Door Foundation

SECONDARY REWARDS

It’s important to remember that community service must always be done for the right reasons. Corporations have to define their values first. That puts them in a position to select a charitable organization to work with that aligns with those values. 

Ultimately, the decision stems from recognizing a need in the community and the energy to do something about it. Rewards, such as improved search engine presence, are secondary. 

Matthew Murray points out in a Bright Local blog post, “Local SEO thrives on backlinks from trusted sources and good backlinks can be obtained from mentions about your community involvement. They flow naturally from your personal relationships.” 

Mr. Murray explains several types of backlink opportunities available to companies that are involved in community service. “Organizational backlinks” are links to your site from the charitable organization with which your company is working. “A link from one of these sites can do wonders for your relative position in Google, particularly as one of the key factors in the local ranking pack is relevance.”

Public relations links are another opportunity to improve SEO both locally and nationally. Mr. Murray’s article explains, “Often there’s not quite enough going on in a local area to fill a newspaper, but local papers can’t publish blank pages. So they look to human interest stories, which they never tire of.” Similar opportunities come from online PR distribution services like Cision’s PR Web, which distributes press releases to an extensive database of media outlets on a national basis for a fee.  

Oliver Neely provides additional evidence of the SEO benefit. “A link from a charity website can be extremely beneficial.  Some are “local hubs,” which get good coverage. This boosts their domain authority, which can be passed onto you.   In some cases, just one or two of these links can push a business right up to the first position of Google.” 

However, Mr. Neely warns, “Google considers making donations for links to be paid links and against Google policies. Clearly, if you give to dozens of random organizations without regard to their cause or location, you are engaging in a link scheme and can expect to be penalized. However, if your motives are altruistic, you keep local, and you don’t go overboard, Google will recognize the difference.” 

CONCLUSION

You really can’t go wrong when giving back – especially in these times when charitable organizations are struggling to adapt to COVID restrictions. It’s all good energy that comes back to you in countless ways and it just so happens that one of those ways is higher rankings in the search engines. Contact us today to optimize your community connections and increase your web ranking on the search engines.

Sources: 

https://www.brightlocal.com/blog/local-seo-begins-with-community/

https://onlinemarketinginct.com/2019/03/19/how-charity-can-boost-your-local-seo/

https://www.edelman.com/research/trust-2020-spring-update

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/volunteering-may-be-good-for-body-and-mind-201306266428 “Volunteering may be good for body and mind” June 26, 2013

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