Colorado Businesses Lead in Philanthropy

BY KATIE DOYEN // Public Affairs Coordinator for the Chamber

WITH COLORADO’S UNEMPLOYMENT rate at an all-time low, the competition as an employer to attract top talent is stronger than ever. More and more, organizations are using corporate social responsibility, or CSR, as a tool to attract and retain workers, boost morale and productivity, reinforce brand reputation and build trust in the community.

In September, Colorado became the first state to honor a local Civic 50 – an honor that recognizes the most philanthropic companies. Among the Colorado honorees were 36 Chamber investors. In November, members of the Chamber’s Public Affairs Council met honorees from businesses large and small to learn about their experiences and the benefits of making CSR part of doing business.

The case for CSR is clear, said Alexis Owen, principal at Kennedy West. Today, 87% of Americans are willing to purchase a product from a company that advocated for an issue they care about.

“The companies that dive in are the ones who benefit,” said Owen, who chairs the advisory board of B:CIVIC, a partner of the Denver Metro Chamber Leadership Foundation that elevates business for good by providing organizations of all sizes with the resources and connections they need to create or grow a successful social responsibility program.

AT&T is one of those companies. The worst time to begin understanding a community is after disaster strikes, said Andy Bailey, senior program manager of AT&T’s humanitarian disaster response team. AT&T puts local communities first by empowering regional employees to build relationships with the communities they’re in. Bailey has found that, “the more options you can give to your employees to engage with the community, the stronger you are and the more our employees thrive.”

Not every company can dedicate a full team to CSR programming, especially when it comes to small businesses. At GroundFloor Media, team members receive dedicated time off to volunteer and can provide pro bono services to community organizations they support. The PR firm has also created a foundation that has granted more than $120,000. Amy Moynihan, GroundFloor’s senior director of communications, suggested some simple steps that can engage employees to bring more purpose into the workplace: consider how the organizations you may support align with your business and your employees and look for opportunities that allow your team to grow and cultivate skills and leadership.

“Look at the employee motivation piece to hear what matters to them,” Moynihan said. “That really helps get folks around the table.”

3 Colorado Businesses Recognized for Leadership

Among companies recognized as the Civic 50 Colorado, three stood out as leaders. Get to know these investors and what they’re doing to support the community where they live and work.

Denver Community Credit Union: Small Company Leader
The Denver Community Credit Union’s Clear Money Program provides free onsite and community-based financial education classes and coaching that are open to the public as a service to the community, as well as train-the-trainer workshops for nonprofits, schools, municipal agencies and local businesses. It also trains employees to become certified financial coaching experts to educate people about how to reach their financial goals.
Furthermore, the Denver Community Credit Union offers employees many other opportunities to make a difference in the community including an annual all-staff volunteer day, team-building community service projects across all departments and mandated board or committee service for managers.
Clearly, employees take advantage of these opportunities: 100% participate and for significantly more hours than the average Civic 50 Colorado company — 17 hours per year versus 10.

AAA Colorado: Midsize Company Leader
A not-for-profit organization since it first came together in 1923, AAA Colorado was founded on the principle of getting travelers to where they need to go safely, and with ease. In addition to its world-famous emergency roadside assistance program, AAA Colorado is unique among companies its size for its dedicated public affairs division that advances traffic safety initiatives.
In 1923, its first accomplishments included numbering Colorado’s highways, donating more than 2,000 highway signs to the state and getting Colorado’s roads paved. Today, AAA Colorado regularly airs PSAs, testifies before policymakers, appears in the media and funds conversation-shaping research on automotive technology and traffic safety.

KeyBank: Large Company Leader
KeyBank considers one of its most valuable assets to be its ability to create hope, opportunity and dignity for the communities and clients it serves. KeyBank actively supports organizations and programs that prepare individuals for thriving futures, with a focus on neighbors, education and workforce.
Over the last two years, KeyBank has invested more than $405 million in Colorado through its national community benefits plan, including community development projects, small business loans, mortgage lending and philanthropic investments in low-to-moderate income communities. KeyBank employees also roll up their sleeves to contribute to the community through volunteerism every day.