Driving a Company Culture
Finding quality employees, then keeping them for the long haul can increase the stability and productivity of any company. With the labor shortages in the trades, that’s even more important. To nurture your workforce, build a company culture that empowers and rewards everyone.
SECTION 8 OF 8
Managing Charitable Giving: How to Walk a Mile in Your Community’s Shoes
The employees from Hunter SuperTechs stuffed the duffel bag for a mile walk around the local streets of Ada, Okla.
Clothes, diapers, necessities—anything they could think of that would be useful in a foster home was placed in the duffel. The now-heavy bag was tied up in the name of the effort: Walk a Mile in My Shoes.
“You walk a mile carrying your duffel bag, so you then know how it feels to be a child who has to pack up all their things and walk away from their home,” said Joseph Hobson, the company’s regional manager.
Hobson works out of the Hunter Super Techs branch in Ada (home of country music superstar Blake Shelton), and was the driving force behind the 2019 march (2020’s was virtual). The cause was close to his heart; he had taken in foster children, adopting three of them.
Hobson’s effort shows what a company in the trades can accomplish when it supports community causes and charities. It makes a difference in the areas the company serves, and brings the ancillary benefit of helping the company brand because it associates it with efforts that matter.
The walk in Ada is just one example.
With the support of the entire Hunter community, including Chris Hunter, who sold Hunter Super Techs in 2019 and now works for ServiceTitan, Hobson joined dozens of co-workers and many of their families to take part.
The walk was sponsored by “It’s a Child’s Life,” a Christian-based nonprofit in Ada “with a heart for children.” Hobson said the cause touches his heart. He has a 3-year-old foster child who has been with him since birth. The three he adopted came to him as teenagers.
“Through the foster care process I realize there’s a lot of kids in the system that don’t have a whole lot to look forward to,” Hobson said.
The walk built company camaraderie that can’t be quantified—and it’s evident on the smiling faces shown on Hobson’s social media posts. Hobson said he saw and felt the commitment from ownership to the techs, which is where Hobson started his career 10 years ago.
Managing community requests can be tricky
Community involvement is partly a matter of want-to. Any company in the trades can take part, as well as any employee in any part of the business. The challenge comes from managing requests.
Trade businesses are asked often to provide support—sponsor a children’s sports team, take part in an event, help a deserving charity.
Hobson emphasized relying on what touches the heart, and encourages team members to choose a cause that invests them in the effort.
“Just look for opportunities,” Hobson said. “Pay attention when they come about. I promise if you look, you’ll find different ways to help.”
Chris Hunter offered these best practices for managing charitable giving as a small business:
Identify how much you want to spend. American Express and the Chronicle of Philanthropy report that small companies on average donate 6% of their profits to community needs.
Have an application ready for those requesting support. Service Roundtable has an excellent Charitable Giving Application.
Establish a timeframe for reviewing applications. Hunter Super Techs made clear an application would be reviewed at annual planning meetings, with support offered the following year.
Form a leadership committee to review applications. Decisions could be based on spreading influence to several groups or people, or limiting choices to a few and providing larger financial impact to each.
Notify the organizations chosen for support. Assign one person in the company as the liaison for graphics, support materials and to coordinate when money is distributed.
Request follow-up. Actively review how the program went at the annual planning meeting to see if the relationship will be continued.
Support employees interested in a charity or cause. And, when possible, participate with them.
Consider individual efforts. One option to involve the team: Provide employees a budgeted amount of money to use for a sponsorship or charity of his or her own. The employee then shares with the company the organization and why it was chosen. Other employees could join the effort, and report on the success and impact.
Anyone in the trades can touch a community
The efforts at Hunter Super Techs is not unique. Many of the companies who use ServiceTitan reach beyond their businesses to touch a community. Among them:
Employees at Jerry Kelly Heating & Air Conditioning (St. Peter’s, Mo.) take part annually in the Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s. The company has donated more than $100,000 since it started taking part in 2014.
Mary Jean Anderson of Anderson, Plumbing, Heating & Air (San Diego) is on the local board of the Susan G. Komen Foundation. Company employees annually take part in the Race for the Cure to fight breast cancer.
All accept what they do with humility. And many, like Hobson, see their charity as a higher calling.
“Maybe that was what God called me to do,” Hobson said, “and I was that person they (the foster children) needed.”
When he first started doing charity work on weekends for the local Kiwanis, Hobson made sure to wear his company hat everywhere he went. During the 2019 walk, many of the Hunter Super Techs employees wore T-shirts with the company logo.
Jerry Kelly in Missouri commissioned two purple trucks to honor its commitment to Alzheimer’s support (purple is the color for Alzheimer’s charities).
While Hobson concedes that community service helps get the company name front and center, his prime motivation is pure.
“It’s just the right thing to do,” he said. “Whether it gets the name out or not, the simple fact of doing this shows we all have a higher purpose in life.”