Why Giving Back is Good for Business

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BLOG VIEW: The Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), which was enacted in 1977, is more critical than ever.

Mortgage lenders must ask themselves what they are doing to make the world a better place.

All too often, giving back is little more than a half-hearted effort to meet regulatory requirements and fulfill obligations, when it should be a way for lenders to demonstrate their core values and, in the process, make team members excited to come to work every day.

When a mortgage lender fails to capitalize on the opportunity to engage its employees through philanthropic efforts and instead focuses on checking off a box, the results can be detrimental to its reputation.

However, when efforts are made to make a philanthropic effort part of a company’s culture, it can be transformative.

Successful businesses focus on getting involved in causes for which their employees have a legitimate passion. When employees feel connected to the work they are doing, they become more engaged, productive and invested. And engagement level is critical to success.

In fact, according to Trendsource, 41% of customers credit their loyalty to a business to positive employee attitudes.

To increase engagement when looking for a new charity to support, lenders should get feedback from team members regarding “who needs help,” as this will spur them to take ownership of a cause they care about.

A genuine responsibility to give back helps team members have more pride in their work, which makes them feel even more connected to the organization’s core values.

Additionally, volunteering is a good opportunity for team building. While giving back, employees often develop and improve skills that they use when working with customers.

Mortgage lenders should have an open-door policy and encourage employees to submit initiatives that are important to them and that they would like the organization to support.

Once suggestions have been received, they can then be filtered through a single department tasked with determining which efforts best sync up with corporate philosophy.

This has proven successful at our company. A single employee brought Folds of Honor, an organization that supports military families, to our attention and the whole company rallied behind this cause.

Now, we donate $5 to Folds of Honor for every mortgage loan closed through our retail branches. The response to this initiative has been undeniably positive from both the community and our team members.

Not only does giving back foster a culture of employee engagement, it also allows an organization to connect with younger generations in an authentic way. This is especially important as millennials begin to make up more of the home buying market. According to a study by Cone Communications, 85% of millennials are likely to seek out companies that practice corporate responsibility. This is a great opportunity to connect with what will soon be the largest living adult generation.

One common problem is that companies fail to adopt philanthropic causes that align with their core values. To ensure that a company’s mission is reflected in the charitable work it does, it should verify that its core values are crystal clear to employees. Then, it should focus on filtering the causes that employees care about through the lens of those values.

One of our core values is to “make a difference” by honoring our responsibility to make things better in our company, our community and our family. We have focused on impacting our community through Reading Partners. Reading Partners focuses on students who are at least one month behind on their reading. Volunteers provide individualized instruction to help students master the reading fundamentals they need to reach grade level. This initiative has allowed our firm to directly represent its core value of making a difference in the community in an authentic way.

The success of a mortgage company can be measured by more than just revenue and the number of loans it originates, buys or services. Mortgage companies should also focus on engaging team members through giving back and reflecting their core values in the charitable work they do.

It’s an easy way to have a meaningful impact on company culture and the communities you serve.

Hobie Higgins is chief community engagement officer for Gateway Mortgage Group.

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