Community Outreach—Good for Community—Good for Your Firm
Community outreach: An activity of providing services to populations who might not otherwise have access to those services.
Adding local community outreach events to your strategic plan can benefit both the firm and the community. Supporting local community events is a way to increase brand recognition, create happier employees, gives you an opportunity to offer much needed assistance, and builds your reputation and presence in your community.
Increase Brand Recognition, Grow Networks
It’s easy to see how being involved in a community event yields greater recognition in the community. Connecting to good works builds trust, cultivates a sense of belonging, and can increase your network to include people you might not find in your advertising campaigns. As an added benefit, when you sponsor an event, you will receive a back link to your website from their site.
Outreach Engages Employees Beyond the Billable Hour
A recent study by Deloitte found that employees and executives who participate in community outreach programs are “more likely to be proud, loyal, and satisfied employees,” and while the study didn’t target law firms, this is true of the legal community as well.
Engaging employees in volunteer opportunities shows that the firm management cares about more than just the dollars earned—that the employees are worth more than their billable hours. These activities bring the group together in a new and satisfying way, and makes employees feel respected as individuals and proud of their firm. And, getting out of the office to support a local event can help avoid burnout.
How to Create Community Outreach
Start with your state and local bar associations. The State Bar of Michigan has a pro bono program you can support and your local bar may have a foundation that donates to local non-profits. To find community organizations, take advantage of some of your local social services programs. Contact them to determine an area of need that you can fill. The United Way can also help in your selection.
Once you decide where you want to donate your firm’s time and treasure, find the outreach that fits your firm’s interests and capabilities. Some suggestions:
- Make a financial donation
- Offer pro bono services
- Offer mentoring to local students
- Volunteer with a social service agency
- Offer to host a community event at your office
Once you’ve decided on an event, you’ll want to promote it. Update your blog and social media profiles with information about your efforts. Create a blog post with details of the event and link to the post with Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and your SBM Member Directory profile. After the event, create a follow up blog and post your pictures.
Community outreach, whether a big or small effort, is worth your consideration. It will increase your brand, build your reputation, and create a more well-rounded firm.
Roberta Gubbins has served as the editor of the Ingham County Legal News. Since leaving the paper, she provides services as a ghostwriter editing articles, blogs, and e-blasts for lawyers and law firms. She is the editor of Briefs, the Ingham County Bar Association e-newsletter, and The Mentor, SBM Master Lawyers Section newsletter.
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