The pride was palpable as our employees packed carefully wrapped gifts and loaded them for delivery. Bags bulging with presents fulfilled the wishes of third graders who wrote letters to Santa, each with a single holiday request. The PCI Cares team made every child’s wish come true; however, it wasn’t only the delighted children who gained from this giving project.
Being Santa this week for a class in a high-need Chicago neighborhood is just one example of how PCI employees invest their time, treasure and talent to help others. In return, they are lifted in spirit and say they also enhance their professional skills. The company benefits, too, as we follow our staff-created mission: Use the power of communications to achieve results that matter most to our clients and make a positive difference.
Philanthropic giving shapes a company’s culture and values. It builds teams and empathy. It develops skills that make the PCI staff members more diverse in their thinking and skilled as communication experts and strategists.
We asked our 45 employees – ranging in age from 21-71 years – their personal opinions about volunteerism and the PCI Cares program, an employee-guided philanthropy initiative. PCI Cares plans staff volunteer days in food banks, beach cleanups and other helping-hands opportunities for team engagement all year long.
Through an anonymous, internal survey, team members offered overwhelming support for the agency’s commitment to philanthropy and to giving employees the chance to support causes important to them.
Nearly 90 percent report actively volunteering in 2017, and 75 percent used PCI’s employee charitable matching-fund program to expand their giving impact. During the year, 27 different charities received support from the PCI Cares fund.
In survey responses, employees expressed appreciation for a culture that fosters teamwork and a commitment to helping change the world through our work with clients – multinationals to small nonprofits – in sectors including healthcare, wellness, education, wildlife conservation, civic and social causes, sustainability and community engagement. We also have many job candidates seeking opportunities with PCI because they desire to work for an agency that makes a positive difference.
Professional and personal benefits are derived from giving. Most PCI employees (83 percent) said they are better communicators and counselors and more engaged community members because they volunteer their time and talent. In fact, 34 percent of the staff have served on nonprofit boards providing expertise and leadership.
Individually team members offered why they believe volunteering and giving makes them better PR counselors, employees and more well-rounded citizens:
- “Volunteering helps me express my passions, which I bring to my client accounts.”
- “Getting first-hand insight into the issues that can cause problems for board and staff leadership of nonprofits. That helps me be a better counselor to client organizations.”
- “It helps me feel connected to my community”
- “I better understand the Chicagoland community and working with diverse populations.”
These are strong endorsements, and they demonstrate there is more to gain from giving than some companies may expect. The return on investment (ROI) profits our company, the return on our mission helps each of us lead a more fulfilling life.
Jill Allread, APR, is Chief Executive Officer, Public Communications Inc., and principal of the agency for more than 20 years.