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Help Your Employees Give Back

It's National Volunteer Month! Companies have the ability to increase their reach by empowering employees to get involved in efforts to give back.

To whom much is given, much is expected. In today's business environment of answering to boards, appeasing shareholders and maximizing value, there isn't always a priority placed on doing what's right outside of the corporate walls.

The introductory adage means a lot at OtterBox. It's ingrained in our culture at every level. As a fast growing company, we're conscious that we not only have the ability but also the responsibility to do what we can to enhance our communities.

With the economic downturn, many companies now face hard budgetary decisions. However, an in-depth analysis of 2010 corporate philanthropy data from the non-profit Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy uncovered some good news. While many corporations in the study reduced giving more than half (53 percent) increased it. Corporate social responsibility goes beyond funding projects and sponsoring fundraising benefits. Those things are important, but what is more significant is being able to influence a generation of givers.

According to the American Association of Fundraising Counsel, more than 78 percent of all giving in 2010 actually came from individuals, not corporations or foundations. The true power a company has to make a difference is not in putting aside a portion of sales for giving, but in planting the seed of giving in all of its employees.

This is a focus at OtterBox. We launched our charitable arm, the OtterCares Foundation, in late 2010 with a program that gave each employee $200 to donate to the charity of their choice along with a challenge to grow that donation. The program was meant to introduce or reacquaint them to giving and volunteering. Additionally, each employee is given 24 hours of paid time off to volunteer each year. These types of programs not only have a positive impact on the community, they also act as team building opportunities that cannot be replicated.

April is National Volunteer Month. I would challenge all businesses-large or small, profitable or not-to find a way to empower and encourage their employees to get involved with a community non-profit. It's a win-win-win. The community benefits from these efforts through increased funding and volunteer access. The employees find passion in a part of their lives that previously may have been undeveloped or underdeveloped and the company benefits through a more motivated workforce and social capital. You can get no better return on your investment.

Last updated: Apr 11, 2012

CURT RICHARDSON | Columnist | Founder and CEO of OtterBox

OtterBox founder and CEO Curt Richardson created the first prototype of a waterproof case in his garage in the early '90s. OtterBox evolved into a leader in protective cases for mobile technology.

The opinions expressed here by columnists are their own, not those of

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