strategic philanthropy
Corporate Culture

Giving It Forward

Susan Hatten
Susan Hatten
Chief Marketing Officer

Pumpkin Spice Latte, anyone? A notorious confection this time of year as the Starbucks’ seasonal drink of choice. The Starbucks enterprise may have also benefited several years ago as consumers adopted a “pay it forward” gesture, where guests made a choice to pay in advance for a Starbucks’ customer receding them in the ever-bustling line of caffeine connoisseurs.

Why do people do this? Why does one intentionally pay for a stranger’s cup of caffeinated cheer, while knowing fully they will not receive thanks nor likely anything in return?

According to Psychology Today, the simple act of giving sparks a chemical reaction releasing dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin — the Happiness Trifecta of neurochemicals. This chemical effect is lasting and also translates to lower levels of stress, higher productivity, heightened mental state, and greater employee engagement.

Seems like a corporate investment in “giving” would make sense, right?!

One of the most powerful TED Talks on record was facilitated by Simon Sinek, a leading business coach and entrepreneur. This particular TED Talk focused on the “Why” — or the epicenter — of what ignites us and motivates us toward participating in certain behaviors.

Why invest in a giving mentality at a corporate level, then — monetarily, resourcefully, and emotionally?

What I love about this TED Talk is that Sinek’s message resonates on a personal and professional level. As I have been spending more time researching the concept of Strategic Philanthropy, I found a direct correlation to solving the inherent question of “Why” we — Holmes Murphy — make decisions to invest in a “give it forward” mentality. This strategic decision as a business stands to allow us to make an even greater impact through our corporate and community engagement.

Our mission statement is to “Promote health, protect wealth, and deliver peace of mind.” One could argue that our mission should indeed feed directly into our own corporate and community engagement mindset. The belief is that not only do we employ talent who believe this, but that our own customers also share a similarly paralleled belief structure. As Sinek champions in his talk, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

Strategic philanthropy and corporate engagement are about commingling your business strategy with your corporate values structure. It is a choice, as is giving it forward. Recent studies have proven that high-trust workplace environments lend well to higher engagement, and thus, a greater affinity to the “Why” in your corporate and social responsibility efforts. As employers and leaders, it’s our role to help extrapolate the passion and energy of our coworkers and to create a robust ripple effect of goodness in our communities and in the world.

Note the title I’ve selected is not Pay It Forward, but rather Give It Forward. There are multiple dimensions to giving and to engagement, and not all are tied to financial means. One of the greatest assets we all possess is time, in which we could convert to dedicated acts of service or volunteerism.

As we embark into this holiday season, I challenge each of us to think about how we might be more mindful in Giving it Forward, and to embrace this mentality year-round. After all, one must never underestimate the value of planting a seed.

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