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Building a Corporate-Giving Program that Reflects the Spirit of Thanksgiving

November 27, 2018

By: Michelle Barrett for The Bellingham Business Journal | The Bellingham Business Journal

Michelle Barrett - Chief Retail Banking and Marketing Officer

Michelle Barrett -  Chief Retail Banking & Marketing Officer

Thanksgiving is a time to be grateful for what we have and reflect on how we can give back. Growing up in Ferndale, a common phrase in my household was “they need it more than we do.” My mom often bought groceries for families who were struggling. My dad, a general contractor, was known for helping those less fortunate by inviting people from his job site to our dinner table, and by giving tools to carpenters who didn’t have money to buy their own. Even though my parents didn’t have a lot of extra money themselves, they showed me how to help those in need.

The importance of giving back continues to guide my management philosophy at Peoples Bank. However, I firmly believe all local businesses have a responsibility to give back to the communities they serve. This includes supporting much-needed social services such as employment outreach assistance, subsidized child care, a well-funded foster care system, mental health and substance abuse support and meals and housing services.

As a businesswoman, I see the positive impact on our local economy when a robust philanthropic environment is in place in the community. It supports new job creation, a strong talent pool, and engaged and loyal customers. Corporate giving programs also provide a valuable outlet for employees to contribute their time and expertise, deepening their connections in the community and allowing them to reap the rewards of giving back.

There are many ways to build a strong corporate giving program. Here are a few principles that I feel are most important.

Ensure it goes beyond check-writing. Giving back doesn’t just mean getting out the checkbook. It can mean serving on boards, organizing fundraising campaigns, offering paid time-off so employees can volunteer their time and skills, matching employee or customer contributions or donations, and partnering with local nonprofits. A strong corporate giving program is well-rounded and leverages your employees’ diverse backgrounds and abilities to give, whether it’s money, time or expertise. Read more...