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Doing Good is Good for Business

by Jeff Gau on June 16

Giving back to the community has been a hallmark of our company since 1973. Marco founders Gary Marsden and Dave Marquardt set examples of being leaders who were not only involved in their communities, but also encouraged other employees to do the same.

Over the years, doing good has become a fundamental part of Marco’s culture and it’s proven to be good for business. To me, it speaks to the quality of the individual and the company they represent. Whether it’s something as simple as making a $25 contribution to your local youth high school sporting event or as significant as raising almost $100,000 for the United Way – it all matters. It isn’t always about writing checks, but perhaps allowing your employees the flexibility to volunteer their time during the work day. 

Sometimes it helps to make a commitment, like we did in 1981 to become a Minnesota Keystone Company, which means that we contribute at least 2 percent of our pre-tax earnings to charitable causes.  Marco, however, has consistently donated closer to 5 percent of our profits to a broad group of organizations in the markets we serve. I feel our commitment to doing good has been instrumental in helping us attract and retain some of the best employees in the industry, grow our client base and increase sales.  Why is that?  People want to be a part of good.

Spirit of Giving
From the first day on the job during orientation employees learn that Marco is committed to community involvement and will encourage them to get involved, as well. We want them to serve on nonprofit boards, volunteer for organizations that matter to them and share their resources with others – even on company time. When employees know the company will support their volunteer activities, they will run with it, seize opportunities to get involved and your company will be better because of it.

The annual United Way campaign at Marco is a testament to that. Our campaign committee creates a fun week of activities that encourage individual contributions, but it also supports our culture of being a great place to work.  This year, St. Cloud-area employees donated $83,000 to the United Way. 

Our employees also get involved in deciding what causes Marco supports each year. A committee of company representatives review requests from other employees, customers and other community members and determine where to best use the dollars the company sets aside for philanthropic contributions every year.  By having a committee it creates an organized approach to assessing and distributing dollars to charitable organizations that the company and employees support.  

Good for Business
Being a good corporate citizen certainly is a “soft” thing, however, I’ve found in my years of being in business, it can help differentiate your company and you’ll win business because of it. Leaders have shared with me that an element of their decision criteria was positively influenced by our demonstrated commitment to community involvement. With all things being equal, why wouldn’t a company want to buy from a good corporate citizen?

We continue to look for ways to make doing good a part of how we do business. A few years ago, we developed a new rebate program for our key clients that have foundations. Through this process, Marco donates 1.5 percent of what the particular organization spends annually with us. We have written agreements that document the program and commitment, but organizations still are always surprised when I present them with a sizable check. We have found this program not only provides funding for our customers foundations, but also increases customer loyalty. 

To my knowledge, we’ve never lost a business opportunity because we’ve been a good corporate citizen; however, I know we’ve won deals because we are.  It’s good for the community, good for the culture and good for your business – so why wouldn’t you do it? 

Topics: Leadership, Good Business

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