Can we afford not to be giving back?

When someone asks if we can afford to be involved in giving back to the community, I answer, “How can we afford not to?”  While part of every our charter is to give a percentage back to the community in financial education and other services, we find that we receive a lot more through community involvement than we give. Giving back yields high returns in employee morale, employee education and brand reputation. It’s a win-win relationship between the organisation and the community.

1. Improve Employee Morale

Community involvement improves company morale. We perform an employee engagement survey that measures how employees feel about the company’s ethics, diversity, leadership and internal alignment. Our results from these surveys in all of those areas are significantly above the average for a company our size. While community involvement is not the only factor involved in these measurements, we believe it is a huge factor in our success.

How do we get employees involved in the community? We provide corporate-sponsored programs and offer them time off from work to participate. We also encourage employees to participate in charities of their choosing.

Employees increase their personal satisfaction in our organisation because we not only help them be successful in their jobs, but we also support them in a cause that they love. This aligns them with our goals, helps them bond with other employees and makes them feel good about being a member of the organisational community.

2. Expand Employee Education

Community outreach makes better employees. Every company wants its employees to grow with the company and gain more experience. Community involvement programs help employees grow and perform better in their jobs. Those employees who participate in our JA or VITA programs receive great financial educations to help them, too. And, they also help people in the community. They gain a greater understanding of financial principles, and as an organisation, that’s exactly what we want.

3. Develop a Better Reputation

When your employees are active in the community, they can emulate a positive image for your brand. Your company has employees who are experts at accounting, marketing, sales, human resources and customer service, to name a few. What better way to help the community than to have them in the community helping others with their skills?

Employees at all levels of the company serve on boards or committees of numerous organizations, including our executives. This includes our partnering with or providing service hours for organizations like People Helping People, United Way, NeighborWorks Salt Lake, Utah Small Business Growth Initiative, First Step House, JA and the VITA programs, among others.

When you give back to the community, the rewards for your company and your employees far exceed the effort. We encourage companies and individuals to look for ways to give back to their communities. It will be worth it.

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Dawn M. Cannon is the Executive Vice President of Bank Operations for EnerBank USA, a nationwide provider of unsecured home improvement loans, and has primary responsibility for overall bank operations and information technology. Her areas of responsibility include information technology systems and infrastructure, information security, consumer lending, loan documentation, client services, contractor support, collections, customer relations and complaint resolution, business continuity, project management, physical premises and facilities management, office management, asset management and process improvement.

Dawn has worked for EnerBank USA for over 11 years serving in a variety of management positions in the areas of accounting, IT and operations. Prior to joining EnerBank USA, she worked in the manufacturing industry for several years with a specialty in cost accounting. She also volunteers her time and resources by serving as a volunteer tax preparer for the IRS’ Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program, serving on an employer committee for People Helping People of Utah, and serving as a member of the United Way of Salt Lake’s Women’s Leadership Council.

Born and raised in the state of Michigan, Dawn holds a B.S. in Accounting from Baker College and an MBA with a concentration in Finance from Spring Arbor University; graduating summa cum laude in both programs.