Corporations are increasingly using philanthropic efforts to give back to the community, create a positive company image, encourage loyalty and teach team-building skills.
Andrew Limouris, president and chief executive officer of Medix Staffing Solutions, said philanthropic leadership training afforded his team the opportunity to connect with both one another and the work they do on a deeper level.
“It’s one thing to say we want to affect lives and another to see the impact firsthand,” he said. “I think the training gave our team a deeper appreciation for the position we are in to create opportunity for others.”
Odyssey Teams, a philanthropic team-building company, provided the training for Medix. Through Odyssey’s LifeCycles program, Medix built bikes for children in need. Odyssey says it has built more than 10,000 bikes through the program since its inception.
Odyssey Teams’ other philanthropic effort with Medix, Helping Hands, aims to do the same with prosthetic hands. Through the initiative, Odyssey’s goal is to give 10,000 prosthetic hands to children and adults in developing nations who cannot afford the typical $3,000 cost.
The philanthropic program has left a positive impression on participants from Medix. After the training, the company decided to change its 10-year business plan. “We felt this sort of training was the best way for us to change the behavior and thinking of our sales organization and help our new goals resonate with them,” Limouris said.
“Our hope was that our salespeople would see that the duties we have in our positions are so much more than getting the task at hand completed,” he said. “It’s important to think of how that task affects those around us, the opportunities it creates, etc.”
Lain Hensley, chief operating officer of Odyssey Teams, equated learning to assemble a prosthetic hand to a product launch or anytime a company undergoes a rapid change. “There needs to be an emotional connection in the knowledge,” she said. “When the team-building activity is over, each person involved has made a more personal connection with both the meeting’s content and their peers — which leads to a stronger work ethic and positive attitude towards the employee’s company.”
Hilton Hotels Worldwide also incorporated philanthropic development with Odyssey’s help.
Gina Valenti, vice president of owner services at Hilton, said philanthropic development worked “because of the the integrated messaging and Lain’s passionate delivery, combined with a powerful offering, where each time we were able to personally make a connection with the end-users of our efforts.”
Valenti said that at the conclusion of the charitable development program the organization was left with life-impacting moments that will always be remembered. Going forward, she said she’s constantly looking for ways to integrate this new philanthropic approach into various events throughout the organization.
“It’s about leveraging people on a team, identifying resources they can use and cross-organizational collaboration,” Hensley said. “The community service is the pull that makes people want to perform. It actually meant a lot to the participants that they were actually doing something to improve a person’s life, rather than, say, a scavenger hunt.”
Jennifer Kahn is an editorial intern with Chief Learning Officer magazine. She can be reached at editor@CLOmedia.com.
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