By Karl Kreutziger, President of C.W. Driver Companies

Winston Churchill once said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” These guiding words have laid the foundation for how C.W. Driver Companies operates as a business, and we are lucky to be where we are today —a company that can be proud to say that it has touched many lives and helped families in the communities in which we work. Throughout the years, our philanthropic efforts have become a definitive part of our company culture by shaping our work environment, goals and values.

Last year, C.W. Driver Companies dedicated 108 volunteer hours on average per month, totaling 1,300 volunteer hours, 22 events and $160K donated to local charitable organizations. Philanthropy is woven into the fabric of our firm, and we encourage employees and their families to give back to their communities —through volunteer service, leadership or donations. The more we get involved, the more we continue to see the immense value it has for our team in enhancing company morale, team building and goal setting.

Here are insights into how to incorporate philanthropy into your culture and why it is so essential.

Spend time, not just money

While it is much easier and less time consuming to write a check rather than donating your time, there is so much value in seeing how your efforts can positively affect others. By volunteering together, it allows employees to band together and work outside of their typical company environment and roles. Our team members consistently say that their favorite charitable contributions are the ones where they get to personally meet, interact and help individuals in need. Employees still talk about how impactful it was to serve lunch at the local soup kitchen years ago and dish out food along with warm smiles and friendly conversations. And we still share stories about how much fun we had volunteering at the Special Olympics summer games, cheering on athletes while witnessing their strength, courage and joy.

By giving service hours, it allows everyone to get involved and tangibly see the difference they are making. It’s truly amazing to see the comradery that volunteering brings to an organization and how it enriches the fabric of the culture.

Keep it close to the heart

At C.W. Driver Companies, charitable giving isn’t left to chance; it is an intentional action with committees and processes in place to ensure our efforts are effective. We target non-profit organizations, causes and events that really resonate with our employees. We do this through internal surveys and open conversations to learn what our people are passionate about.

In fact, one of our largest non-profit partnerships originated from an employee who came forward with the idea of working with ALS of Orange County to renovate homes for individuals living with the debilitating disease. The company later learned that this employee’s father had passed away from ALS, so he knew first-hand the challenges families faced when having to cope with a parent’s loss of mobility and the need for wheelchair assessable homes. As a result, C.W. Driver Companies launched a three-year partnership with OC ALS to perform large-scale renovations to make homes more handicap accessible including entrance ramps, hallway widenings, bathroom remodels, etc. In total, C.W. Driver Companies have renovated 13 homes and made life a little bit easier for families affected by ALS.

It creates its own momentum

Once others start getting involved, it becomes a domino effect. More and more employees will continue to participate and a healthy, friendly competition is generated between offices. Eventually volunteer opportunities expand into much larger endeavors and employees feel encouraged to think outside-the-box for other ways to get involved.

In fact, we now have a tradition of incorporating a charitable tie-in to every corporate event we host. Each year at both our open house and subcontractor appreciation events, we invite nonprofit organizations to attend, speak and gain exposure to large audiences who can continue to contribute time and materials. We have previously worked with HomeAid, Operation Help a Hero, Kristie’s Foundation and Jessie Reese Foundation, among others.

These key takeaways lay the foundation of our approach to philanthropy and are the means by which we fulfill our underlying goal of continuing to connect with our community and help those in need.