Every community can use more support, both as a result of COVID and otherwise. While community leaders are doing all they can, it’s our job as local business owners and attorneys to step in and do our part as well—whether as an individual or with a charity of your choosing. For example, organizations like the Los Angeles Trial Lawyers Charity, which I am honored to support on a regular basis, do important work for the citizens of L.A.
Not only does doing good better the community, but a rising tide lifts all boats in the harbor. The more vibrant and healthy these local charities and communities are, the more demand for your professional services there will be.
Supporting my local community with charitable and pro bono work is critical for me as an attorney, and I’m here to encourage you to take part in your community, as well. Here are some interesting trends and ideas to consider.
2021 Trends in Community Support
An estimated 56 percent of U.S. households participated in charitable activities last year, according to a 2020 poll from Indiana University. Around one-third of those surveyed contributed to local organizations in direct response to the COVID-19 crisis.
While the 2021 Philanthropy Outlook projects that total charitable donations will increase by 5.1 percent in the next several months, the majority of contributions will be from personal or household finances. Businesses and corporations make up the lowest percentage of donors.
So what do these statistics reveal about your support initiatives in 2021? To start, business owners need to take more of a leadership role in community support. As attorneys, we can provide value in many ways, whether simply donating our time as legal professional or volunteering for a local event.
What’s more, a strong relationship between a business and the community it serves is beneficial for everyone across the board. When you put yourself out there, more people know and respect you—and may be more likely to work with you if they’re ever in need.
Community Support Reinforces the Pursuit of Justice
By definition, lawyers advocate for justice—it’s why this profession exists. But even more so, to quote attorneys David F. Levi, Dana Remus and Abigail Frisch, “Lawyers claim an essential role as connectors in their communities: interstitial figures with the knowledge, skill and trust to help resolve disputes, move beyond stalemates, dispel tensions, and otherwise bring people or resources together in productive solutions.”
This work can be accomplished through your own pro bono work with disenfranchised or underrepresented members of the community. However, it can also be done by partnering with charities or grassroots organizations. Bring your particular and invaluable legal training and business skills to solve the community’s most challenging problems.
While this can take away from the billable hours you work, I’ve personally experienced that operating a business and working in your local community go hand in hand. The more you show up for your community, the more they’ll show up for you in terms of positive word of mouth, opportunities in local media, and reinforcing a sterling reputation.
More importantly, being involved in charitable causes is good for the heart and the soul, helping keep us humble and motivated.
Community Support Leads to Community Resilience
Corporate social responsibility, or the lengths that a business will take to participate in charitable activities, is linked to community resilience overall. In times of crisis, business owners who respond with civic actions and contributions play an essential role in helping their communities rebuild—and the public takes notice.
“Society’s expectations of companies have fundamentally changed,” says Sarah Kaplan, economics professor at the University of Toronto. “A crisis such as the 2020 pandemic raises them even higher: It makes people hyperaware of which organizations are pulling their weight in the world and serving all stakeholders.”
Your commitment to philanthropy in 2021 could help boost collective resilience while further assisting organizations that make this possible.
While corporate social responsibility is meaningful on its own, you also might find these efforts to give back to the community enable your own business to thrive in uncertain times as well. SCORE reports that 85 percent of consumers have a positive image of businesses that support charitable causes.
Show up for your community and they’ll show up for you stronger and more powerfully.
Level Up Your Community Support In 2021—And Beyond
I firmly believe that community support is an essential part of being an attorney. If you have yet to prioritize this work in your practice, 2021 is the time to partner with and support local organizations on the frontlines. Mobilize your resources and look for ways to contribute to fill your soul and keep your business connected with the local community.