Each and every day, we get the opportunity to touch a number of peoples’ lives— in some way and to varying degrees. While few of these interactions are likely to have a profound effect on others, sometimes the smallest of gestures have the greatest impact. It’s amazing how a simple “great job” or “thank you” can lift the spirits of an employee, inspiring them to share a positive attitude with their co-workers and the company’s clients. Just a few encouraging words can go a long way towards improving morale and customer satisfaction, especially when that practice is repeated on a fairly regular basis. It’s not just the praise that elevates the spirit of others, but the interest shown in their work or their operations. After all, people enjoy attention and a little giving goes a long way.

Whether dropping a few dollars in a red kettle during the holidays or leaving a substantial fortune to the local university, the charitable spirit is still alive and well in the 21st century. The process of giving may be more multi-faceted today, with tax write offs and a number of other benefits for donors; but humanitarian interests are still the driving force behind corporate and individual contributions. And charities aren’t the only ones positively affected by the philanthropic nature of businesses.

Many companies (including a number of MSPs I’ve worked with) “pay it forward” through informal community relationships. They may mentor individuals with an interest in IT, promote technology careers in local schools, or renovate an elderly neighbor’s house. A philanthropic attitude benefits the giving company as well, enhancing a positive reputation in the community and leading to increased employee morale (when they get involved).

How can MSPs give back? They can periodically carve out a block of time (weekly, monthly, or annually) to volunteer with a local community organization or to complete a significant good-will project. If possible, encourage company-wide participation so all interested employees can participate, at least those who are willing and able to. Many businesses do write off the labor costs for these goodwill projects as a marketing expense or as in-kind gifts, and the positive press and mutually beneficial experience make it a worthwhile venture for all involved. Philanthropic activities are great for team-building, fostering camaraderie and giving employees a warm, fuzzy feeling for contributing their time and efforts (even if they do get paid).

In addition to the humanitarian value to an MSP business and its workers, recipient organizations generally promote their volunteer partners through the local media, on their websites and in newsletters and other outgoing communications. That’s great publicity for the business, highlighting the company’s ongoing commitment to the community and enhancing the reputation of its people. How else can MSPs “pay it forward?”

  • Adopt a highway
  • Offer a free technology course at a senior center or youth organization
  • Contribute a day to a community project, such as Habitat for Humanity
  • Mentor an aspiring IT professional (a win-win in many cases)
  • Give an IT makeover to a disadvantaged school or organization
  • Clean up a public park or community eyesore

MSPs have several options to get more of their team involved in philanthropic activities. Proactive services can be rescheduled for other days, freeing up those technicians who’d like to participate in the company’s volunteer efforts. Helpdesk calls can be routed to the outsource partner that ordinarily handles them during off hours and, if needed, a skeleton staff can address emergency issues while the rest of the team is away. If an MSP wants to give back to the community, there are few obstacles to prevent it.

“Paying it forward” is a win-win proposition and everyone involved benefits from these volunteer endeavors. With social media, an MSP can let their followers know they give back…and encourage them to suggest future projects for the company to participate in. With a little foresight and company encouragement to participate, philanthropy can be both fun and fulfilling for all involved. It can lead to improved morale and a number of new business opportunities. While business payback shouldn’t be a primary consideration for philanthropy, it can be a pleasant result of an MSPs efforts.

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