Businesses—especially large companies—invest quite a bit in Corporate Social Responsibility (CRS) efforts every year. Fortune 500 companies spend approximately $20 billion a year on CSR activities, according to the Harvard Business Review. These companies know that CSR can have tremendous long-term benefits in terms of increased sales, employee satisfaction and community goodwill.
But few businesses or industries truly understand the magnifying power of local CSR programs better than America’s auto dealerships. By giving to local charities, volunteering employees’ time and skills and opening their doors to a variety of causes, the dealership network has shown time and again that they are committed to their communities.
Those local philanthropic activities were even more pronounced during the COVID-19 pandemic, when dealers across the country stepped up to support their communities with a myriad of philanthropic giving—ranging from charitable grants to the donations of medical supplies to providing complimentary auto maintenance to first responders.
Connecting with Community, Engaging Employees
Helping their neighbors is just good business, said Tom Holcombe of Little Apple Cars in Manhattan, Kan. “You do it to try to help your community. You do it primarily because it’s of interest to you and helps a group of people, and thereby helps the community. The stronger your community, the better off everyone is and the better our business is.”
Even though it’s one of the largest auto dealers in the Midwest, Kunes Auto Group is proud of its deep community roots and philanthropic giving. "It's about getting embedded with the town and helping out the food pantries and churches, and any sort of social services that dig in and help people," Jennifer Myers, marketing director for Kunes Auto Group, recently told local newspaper, the Rockford Register Star. “Those are the organizations we like to come alongside.”
It can also help motivate and inspire employees. A Fidelity Investments survey of approximately 1,200 workers across the U.S. found that 66%t of respondents said they feel it's important for companies to be philanthropic and to support different causes. Among millennials, it was 75%.
In some cases, employees are even the ones behind the wheel when it comes to local CSR and charitable giving. Palmiero Toyota of Meadville, Penn. raised $34,675 during COVID-19 and months of uncertainty for the car dealership’s 11th annual Give Back Program.
In addition to a public vote on which charities to donate to, Palmiero Toyota also lets the dealership employees select a charity. This year, the employees choose the Yolanda G. Barco Oncology Institute, where the dealership’s president and general manager had previously received treatment. “I can’t believe the employees voted for them,” Allison Palmiero Brady told The Meadeville Tribune. “That meant a lot for me.”
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