If you look back over the past year, what kinds of things have you done in the community? Probably a lot if you’re the typical Kaua`i business. According to the Hawai`i Community Foundation’s (HCF) “Hawai`i Giving Study 2002,” “Kaua`i led the other counties in terms of the percent of households that contribute at 97 percent.” Why are we so generous? HCF says “Kauai’s impressive charitable giving participation can be linked to the high levels of civic engagement, or social capital, among its residents. This connectedness is referred to by many Kaua`i residents as The Iniki Effect – when they all came together after Hurricane Iniki devastated the island in 1992.”
Think about this too: “When you consider the number of business associates…who sit on nonprofit boards of directors, that’s a lot of in-kind support…We need to celebrate how some industries have really stepped up to the plate to support the Kauai community… If we put a dollar amount on our volunteer hours we are one of the richest places in the whole world,” says Laurie Ho, Coordinator of Garden Island Resource Conservation and Development.
We are indeed a caring, connected community. From a public relations standpoint, this bodes well for local businesses, though it is not local-style to toot your own horn. Next time you do a good deed and humility overcomes you, remember that consumers, and even your employees, want to know what causes your company supports. A breast cancer survivor may be more inclined to buy Yoplait because its yogurt container top campaign backs breast cancer research. This consumer is part of a growing market of “social shoppers.” She wants to patron companies that are making a positive difference in the world as well as helping her personally. And you can bet that her family and friends are following her lead.
Still feel uncomfortable about tooting your own horn? Then look at how you’re tooting. You don’t need to appear in the newspaper presenting a giant check every time your company makes a donation. Be creative. Challenge another like-sized business to get more walkers than you in the next walk-a-thon. Volunteer with your employees to serve dinner at the next big charity event. Those kinds of things will be newsworthy without media coverage. The coconut wireless can make and break reputations on its own.
Maximizing your community service is not only good for business, it helps Kaua`i and will make your employees proud to be associated with your company.