Why is corporate philanthropy important?
Businesses of all sizes and industries can impact the communities surrounding them by having corporate philanthropy programs. These are investments and activities that a company voluntarily gets involved with to account for its social impact, including financial investments, product donations, in-kind services, and volunteerism.
The impacts that philanthropy offers a company, its employees, and society are invaluable. For local organizations, grants, financial support and volunteer hours can help provide supplies, resources and manpower that otherwise would go unfunded. These benefits can help strengthen the community with more opportunities for residents and boost the local economy.
Employee morale and recruitment efforts can also be bolstered through a company’s philanthropic programs. When a company shows that it cares about the community and emphasizes a sense of giving, employees and job seekers can feel that they are or can be part of something bigger beyond the typical scope of work. People are also passionate about serving others, and some companies even offer employee funds that provide monetary funding to colleagues who are going through unforeseen financial burdens.
How companies can get involved
Consequently, when a company has philanthropic programs and is well established, the local community, clients and potential customers can have a positive perception of the company. This positive image encourages community members to utilize the company’s services over a competitor who is not as involved with the community and helping others.
Examples of how small-to-mid-sized business support their communities:
- Give to local charities: 66%
- Support youth organizations: 48%
- Donate to local first responders: 42%
- Aid local service groups (Rotary Club, Scouts, etc.): 37%
- Donate food or volunteer in soup kitchens: 32%
Regardless of the size of a company, businesses can incorporate giving and philanthropy through several different options.
Community Grants: Surrounding community organizations can apply to a company with a community grant program explaining how the grant would support their mission, or the company itself initiates community grants.
Volunteer time off: Volunteer time off is employer-sponsored paid time off to do volunteer work, allowing employees to take a day away from work to contribute to non-profit efforts.
Matching gifts: Companies with matching gift initiatives match the employee’s dollar amount of funds to eligible charities and non-profits.
RK Industries (RK) is the parent company of seven wholly-owned subsidiaries focused on construction, manufacturing, fabrication and building services. It operates four manufacturing and fabrication facilities in the greater Denver area and has helped construct some of the most prominent buildings shaping the Denver skyline. For close to 60 years, RK has had the privilege of supporting numerous nonprofits and charities that improve the quality of life in the community and the quality of life for its employees. Today, RK continues its proud tradition of philanthropy through the RK Foundation and RK Cares.
Established in 2011, the RK Foundation allocates grant funding and supports employee volunteer hours to local nonprofits and causes that align with our three focus areas: community development, education, and health. The RK Foundation is funded by recycling all of the scrap metal produced at RK’s four shop facilities, construction projects, and service sites. All proceeds are directed to the RK Foundation, supporting community organizations in a unique and sustainable funding model.
Community Development: RK believes in the power of individuals, groups, and businesses working together to strengthen the communities in which its employees and clients live and work. It seeks to support organizations that innovate and generate tangible solutions to issues affecting communities in the Rocky Mountain region.
Education: Quality education systems are the foundation for successful businesses and communities and are a key driver of disrupting so many families’ poverty cycles. We have a strong connection to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and a passion for developing career technical education and pathways for the skilled trades. Our purpose is to invest in various educational pathways that allow a diverse workforce to flourish. We respect and admire 501(c)(3)s that are relentless in their pursuit of delivering better quality solutions.
Health: Healthy stakeholders and communities are a priority and a driving force behind our giving. RK supports health initiatives in the local communities and focuses on employee wellness, physically and mentally. RK places special emphasis on funding mental health awareness, suicide prevention and men’s health initiatives.
RK Cares serves as RK’s philanthropic and corporate citizenship arm, overseeing employee engagement and community outreach efforts. Throughout the year, RK Cares organizes various volunteer opportunities for RK employees, their families, and friends. Volunteer events include packing food at local food banks, mobile blood drives, making blankets, wrapping holiday presents for kids in need, and assembling care packages for deployed military members, to name a few. RK Cares volunteers regularly log around 400 hours during the group volunteer activities on an annual basis.
In 2019, the RK Cares Foundation was formally established to oversee the new employee hardship fund program, the HERO Fund. The HERO Fund empowers our team to help one another reduce the burden when unexpected emergencies occur. It is an emergency relief fund that is a resource for RK employees and their immediate family members when they experience financial hardships such as medical emergencies, the death of a family member, and loss of housing or transportation due to unexpected circumstances. RK employees donate collectively to support co-workers and their families to help each other recover and rebuild.
RK is proud to support its communities and the health and well-being of its employees. It is a company that understands that helping others is part of its business model. Providing support outside its typical project initiatives is a way for RK to give back and be a helping hand through the power of its financial and employee volunteer resources.
Written by Ileana Morales
10 Year Impact Report, accessed April 8, 2022
Corporate Philanthropy: Definition and Benefits, accessed April 8, 2022, Indeed
RK Cares Hero Fund: An Employee Compassion Fund, accessed April 8, 2022, RK Industries
The Importance of Corporate Philanthropy, accessed April 8, 2022, CHRON.
What is Corporate Philanthropy?, accessed April 8, 2022, Selflessly
Companies are always on the lookout for employees who will stay long-term and are committed to growing and improving. Likewise, employees want to work for companies that will provide them with opportunities to develop their skills.
Mentorships are a great way to help employees, both new and experienced, expand their knowledge and personal development. They focus on positive workplace behavior and performance, providing employees with the training needed to be successful.
Traditionally, mentoring relationships have involved senior employees guiding their younger colleagues, but hierarchy and age aren’t necessarily important in modern workforces. As long as mentors have experience that can help others learn, this is all that matters. For instance, younger employees can teach older employees about ever-changing technology in the workplace.
Successful mentoring relationships can also naturally create a rich multigeneration office culture by combining the top qualities of each participant. Senior employees traditionally have a great work ethic, loyalty and dedication. Whereas, younger employees may come to work with new ideas and passion. Together, they can make for a positive and effective team.
Research has shown that workers who have a mentor enjoy greater job satisfaction, and mentors learn from those they are guiding. But, mentoring in the workplace not only benefits the mentors and mentored, it also benefits companies with increased employee retention and knowledge sharing. On top of that, mentoring programs have shown to increase company diversity, with participation expanding minority representation in management-level positions.
Top Benefits of Mentorship in the Workplace
Something important to note is that mentoring relationships should never be forced. This can cause employees to resent the idea as an obligatory task. Instead, sharing the positive benefits with employees and offering to help connect them with a mentor, when and if they are ready, is most effective. To be prepared, companies should gather information about employee skills, communication styles and career goals. A major key to successful mentorship relationships is connecting employees who communicate well together, can connect on a personal level and are working toward attaining similar goals.
In the end, mentors need to feel that their time is valued in order to achieve a successful mentorship relationship. Those who are mentored must think of the experience as an investment in their growth, rather than a sure path to promotion.
Apprenticeships prepare workers for highly skilled construction jobs. Employers invest time and money in hands-on training, often along with regular classes. The model provides valuable real-world experience and educational instruction for workers who would like to break into an industry that is new to them. The end goal of an apprenticeship is attaining national skills standards and becoming licensed in a particular skilled trade.
There are many benefits to apprenticeship. However, many people often overlook apprenticeships, instead opting to attend college or beginning their career with an entry-level position.
Here are the top three reasons to consider an apprenticeship:
- Learning While Earning
Going off to college or a trade school can be a great educational experience, but it can cost a lot of money that many simply do not have. On top of that, it can be challenging to hold a full-time job in order to pay for expenses while in school.
Apprentices are paid a basic living wage (the national average is $15/hour) to start while also learning and gaining experience every day. As an apprentice’s skills grow, wage increases and promotions often follow.
- Access to Ongoing Mentoring
Apprentices are usually assigned a mentor who is an experienced construction professional. The mentor’s role is to help plan and guide an apprentice’s learning along the way. They provide valuable feedback and support to improve an apprentice’s skills and are always available to answer questions.
- Increased Future Opportunities
Being involved with the day-to-day operations of a business during an apprenticeship, which usually takes two to four years to complete, allows apprentices to make connections with many important people within the industry.
Future employers will also see the hard work that was required to complete the apprenticeship and will surely value that education and work ethic when considering hiring an individual.
In addition, apprentices have the potential to earn college credit toward a degree through their apprenticeship program, should they decide to work towards gaining an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree at a later date.
The apprenticeship model prepares workers to compete in today’s economy. The hands-on training keeps apprentices current with innovations and technology. Moreover, the majority of apprentices stay on as full-time employees upon completion of an apprenticeship, allowing for a successful long-term career with a competitive salary without college debt.
The RK Apprenticeship Program helps provide skills for a much needed construction workforce. If you are interested in starting an apprenticeship in construction, click here to learn more about what our program offers.
Clothes to Kids Denver, Inc. helps to provide new and quality used clothing to school-age students from low-income or in-crisis families. The RK Foundation (RKF) has gotten on board in supporting their efforts by fabricating 12 clothing collection bins through the RK sheet metal shop. The bins were placed in Denver Public Schools (DPS) in October for donated clothing. RKF has committed to expand the program further over the next four years. Bin sites include DPS Headquarters, Bill Roberts, Emily Griffith, Hamilton Middle School, Hill Middle School, Holm Elementary, McAuliffe International School, Steck Elementary, and Swigert International School.
After the items are donated, they are picked up, sorted and washed by volunteers, who then help students “shop” for clothes. Founded in 2002, Clothes to Kids seeks to fill the gap that inadequate clothing makes. Research has shown that students who come to school without proper clothing experience low self-esteem, poor social skills, and lack of concentration in class. There are roughly 55,000 students in the DPS system who are in need of better clothing.
Clothes to Kids has a store they run and a family must make an appointment to “shop” at it. Students select a week’s worth of clothing, including five shirts, four pants, one dress (optional), one coat, one pair of shoes, and five pairs of new underwear and socks. Parents are welcome to shop with or without their children. Qualifying students must live in the Denver Metro Area, they must be in preschool-12 grade (or working towards earning their GED), the family must be considered in need of assistance (the student must be receiving free or reduced lunch at school), and they must also be receiving services from a social service agency, school or counseling center.
The partnership between RKF and DPS came about through Hamilton Middle Schooler, Marko Babiak, who “envisioned a program that would create an opportunity for DPS students to help other students in their community”. While in 5th grade, Babiak set up a bin at his school to collect clothing and shoes. The effort was a big success and he helped expand the program and approached RKF to be a sponsor. The collaboration will help to provide school clothing to thousands of students currently in need. Since 2008, Clothes to Kids Denver has provided more than 19,000 wardrobes to students.