New on #AptChat: Philanthropy and Community Involvement

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We continue to track the Twitter-based chats going on between property managers on Apartment Chat glean smart management tips. The theme of a recent chat was “Philanthropy and Community Involvement.” It was based on the fact that the huge number of people across the country who live and work in apartments can constitute a large force for good if channeled into community and philanthropic activities.

Here’s how the chat proceeded:

What are some brands you admire for their philanthropic efforts and community involvement? Why do you like these programs?

Participants mentioned Microsoft (the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation), State Farm (sponsoring teams and events), and Toms (first to popularize the buy one/give one model that’s being duplicated elsewhere). One manager mentioned that she’s seeing a lot more in-store charity drives these days, including “donate and get % off purchase,” “buy a decal,” etc.

What philanthropies are you working with? What kind of social efforts are you involved with at your company?

One property manager said her company chooses the charities that the employees are most passionate about, both local and national, that seem to best serve the local community. These range from a workforce center that teaches computer and interview skills to a summer youth employment program that provides summer jobs.

Several participants chimed in to praise an annual event hosted by the Atlanta Food Bank that’s widely supported by the city’s property management companies. This year there were marching bands, balls and other events that raised substantial money for the cause. The advantage of this sort of community support is that it’s not necessary for each property management company to formulate its own philanthropic program: they can simply participate in this centralized one and have a big impact. It’s similar to the way some very large donors have given money to the Gates Foundation, trusting them to know how to spend it well.

How do you encourage your employees to get involved in their community? Do you offer paid time for volunteering? Anything else?

Nobody chimed in that their employees were actually incentivized to participate in philanthropic activities. One manager said their company sponsors a classroom instead of throwing an annual holiday party, shifting the money to something worthwhile in the community. Another again emphasized the important of letting the employees choose the charities so that they will feel vested in the giving.

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How you do communicate philanthropic efforts to residents? Do you get them involved? Do you ever support residents’ causes?

Besides the good done in the local community, there are side benefits to engaging residents in charity activities. First, the community’s and property management company’s brands are promoted and associated with good works. Secondly, charity events and drives create a sense of community between residents, and between residents and property management. This is particularly true of events held at the properties themselves, where everyone is “mixing it up” together.

We hope this chat sparks some ideas of your own about community involvement. Stay tuned for a recap of the next discussion from Apartment Chat!

 


Author and Contributor

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Based in New Orleans, Guy Lyman is a professional writer with over 25 years’ experience writing about multifamily and commercial real estate. Lyman is a frequent contributor and writer for the Property Management Insider blog.

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