The Business Coach with Laura Murphy: To volunteer or not

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Question: “I’ve been asked by a customer which charity do we support? We don’t and I now feel pressured to do so. Why should I? ” Dominic.

Answer: Why not? There’s a good business case to be made by aligning yourselves with a charity but I’m interested in what triggered such a strong emotional reaction. Why you feel pressured to do so and what is it that’s making you feel resentful about it.

Had you’d recognised before but decided to ignore it and you’re now feeling guilty? Did you perceive the tone used as implying your values were somehow inferior so you’re angry? Or is it a fear that the customer won’t do business with you otherwise? Then again, perhaps you’re so focussed on keeping your business going that you don’t have time to “waste” on something that’s not going to give you any return.

So what is the business case - the return on investment? Employee surveys describe greater motivation and commitment to their company, with reduced staff turnover if volunteering for a local community based initiative is actively supported. It can give you low cost publicity and exposure locally which increases brand awareness and your customer base. And you can do it at a scale that fits you. Billing a charity an hour less under the “Gain an hour, give an hour” initiative for example. Whatever you decide, it should be part of a wider strategy and aligned with your own business: an IT company helping a charity to access IT grants for example. Then there’s mutual value and you can answer your customer with genuine honesty and belief in what you’re doing.


Laura Murphy is the founder of mtc2 ltd, a management consultancy, training and coaching company. Laura is an organisation development specialist and business coach. If you have a problem then contact her at

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Names and details have been changed to protect confidentiality