Now that Christmas is behind us and the year has almost come to an end, it seems appropriate to highlight why charity should be an essential part of a company’s culture.
Charity hasn’t always been central to our corporate identity at SPMI, but our team has upped the giving anty every year since we started. From a single charity walk for cancer in San Diego in 1999, to providing meals for San Antonio’s food challenged residents in 2017, I have been absolutely amazed at the energy and caring our team exhibited during each of these endeavors.
Early on, we knew we were helping those in need. What we didn’t realize is how giving back would positively impact us along the way. If you aren’t engaged in some form of giving already, I hope what follows encourages you to consider starting a new tradition in 2018.
Doing Good Instills a Sense of Ownership
One of the best parts about our charity endeavors is that many of these initiatives were generated by our facility managers and assistant managers. We rely on them to have their finger on the pulse of the community. Since they are in the community every day, they know better than anyone what the community needs.
More often than not, our managers also live in the communities where we operate. Since supporting every organization isn’t possible, we select giving opportunities that are meaningful to individual team members. This also helps the rest of our team get on board to increase our impact. By empowering our managers to give back to the community in the ways that are closest to their hearts, they develop a stronger sense of ownership over their facilities.
This has been one of the best ways we have developed leadership and team work at SPMI. When a job becomes about more than a paycheck, that’s when you see people go above and beyond the call of duty. Charity is a great way to provide that opportunity.
Every year, we get together for an annual holiday party to celebrate our achievements as a team. Without a doubt, one of our team members’ biggest sources of pride is talking with each other about the charity work they’ve done throughout the year. This year’s photo slideshow was full of team members giving back and I suspect I wasn’t the only one whose heart swelled with appreciation while watching.
You Create a Stronger Company
As we all know, self storage is a very location-dependent business. Where our facilities are located greatly affects their occupancy as well as the rates we charge. Meaning, the more our communities thrive, the more potential customers we have.
This is why charity work focused on improving the educational opportunities of the children in our communities is so important to us. We believe that education is one of the best investments anyone can make in a community. The dividends pay out greatly over time and they drastically change lives for the better. When our communities become stronger, so do our businesses. This line of thinking is something we have communicated to our team for a long time.
We’ve been in business for almost 20 years, and a few years ago we sat down to formalize our culture: what it was, how we talked about it, how it came to be, and what we wanted it to be in the future. This exercise invigorated our team. It’s no surprise that the first value they decided on was, “Strengthen the Community.”
It warmed my heart to see our team discuss how taking steps to better our community was not just a good business decision, but, more importantly, the right thing to do! Again, I believe doing good in the community is central not only to developing SPMI’s leadership, but keeping them engaged and fulfilled in their work.
You Develop a Reputation in Your Community
A self storage facility is just like any other community. It’s important to know your neighbors and develop relationships with them. Charity events give our managers an opportunity to do just that.
There are many easy, cost effective ways we do this. On-site events that provide food are one of our favorites. Who doesn’t appreciate a warm cup of hot cocoa during the winter or a brat fresh off the grill in the summer? When you couple these activities with a call to charity, renters not only feel good about what they got, but about what they gave. They remember these positive feelings and associate them with our brand.
As time goes on, our community of renters has come to expect our regular charity events and go so far as to participate in organizing and advertising them. They appreciate seeing how we participate in these events not to get, but to give back.
It is not uncommon for commercial renters to donate what they normally sell to our charity events. These make great prizes for raffles and provide a marketing platform for the businesses that operate out of our self storage facilities. We know that marketing is also one of our team’s most difficult duties too. These events give them a good reason to visit the surrounding businesses and residential communities.
It’s Just the Right Thing to Do
With all of the business in our lives, it’s easy to forget that we are so privileged to strive and work every day in an industry that we love.
As self storage professionals, we work with people moving into new stages of life. Sometimes that means preparing to accommodate a larger family or move to pursue a new job opportunity. Other times, we work with those who are in need or experiencing distress. We see the best and worst in life. In my mind, when that’s the case, we can either turn a blind eye or be part of the solution by taking action.
Starting a charity initiative at your company does not have to be a large endeavor. You can start small by sponsoring a youth sports team or partnering with a local food bank as a drop off point. Be careful to start small and be conscious of the time you spend asking for contributions. We are selective with our calls to charity because we don’t want our ask to customers to feel like we are asking them for something every time they are in the office.
It is our duty to give back and raise up the communities we serve. I am constantly impressed and inspired by the way our team has evolved this concept over the years and hope that you decide to start or grow a charity initiative at your company in 2018. God bless and Happy New Year!