By Richard M. Segal
Oct. 25, 2012
It has become a huge part of American corporate culture to give back to the community. We hear frequently about large donations by corporations to one nonprofit or another. Many companies have set up foundations to do the giving, and if the business happens to be a family business we hear of Family Foundations like the Ford Foundation.
Giving back to the community isn’t only a mitzvah (good deed), it’s good business. It becomes part of a company’s Good Will and it is important enough to be a line item on a balance sheet. Sponsoring youth athletics, scouts or school clubs are great ways for businesses to give back, but they don’t penetrate the way that has become common in big corporations.
Many large companies expect their employees to volunteer – to give of themselves by giving time to the community. In the world of philanthropy giving of one’s self by giving of your time is a higher level of giving than writing a check – even a big one.
I can’t think of a better way of a family business to give back than to encourage your employees to become Mentors. Here are some findings on the impact Mentors from one of the giants in the Mentoring community Big Brothers Big Sisters (For the full report – www.seriousgiving.org/files/unitedstates/BBBS/111_publication.pdf
Little Brothers and Little Sisters were 46 percent less likely than controls to initiate drug use during the study period. Our results indicate that for every 100 youth in this age group who start to use drugs, only 54 similar youth who have a Big Brother or Big Sister will start using drugs. An even stronger effect was found for minority Little Brothers and Little Sisters, who were 70 percent less likely to initiate drug use than other similar minority youth.2
Little Brothers and Little Sisters were 27 percent less likely than controls to initiate alcohol use during the study period, and minority Little Sisters were only about one-half as likely to initiate alcohol use.
Little Brothers and Little Sisters were almost one-third less likely than controls to hit someone.
Little Brothers and Little Sisters skipped half as many days of school as did control youth, felt more competent about doing schoolwork, skipped fewer classes and showed modest gains in their grade point averages. These gains were strongest among Little Sisters, particularly minority Little Sisters.
The quality of relationships with parents was better for Little Brothers and Little Sisters than for controls at the end of the study period, due primarily to a higher level of trust in the parent. This effect was strongest for white Little Brothers.
Likewise, there were improvements in Little Brothers’ and Little Sisters’ relationships with their peers relative to their control counterparts, an effect most strongly evidenced among minority Little Brothers.
Clearly, mentoring has an unbelievably positive impact on the youth being served. As a choice for community service for a company’s program it has many other advantages too. Your company gets powerful good will from direct involvement. Your employees will build a bond over their mentoring experiences. And, if you are successful enough to find several mentors within your ranks you will undoubtedly get good media coverage usually developed by the mentoring organization on your company’s behalf. Such positive free publicity is priceless. Consider too that mentoring is a leadership skill that will likely translate into good management skills for your employees. It is a WIN-WIN-WIN-WIN.
In addition to all that, mentoring has to be as much of a developmental process for the mentor as the mentee. In my case, every time I approach a subject with my young friend it requires a soul searching of my own morals, ethics and values. There have been times when he has challenged me to grow in ways I had not considered. And, he keeps me thinking young.
Mentors come in all ages, ethnicities, religions and income levels. All that is required is the willingness to spend some time with a kid who needs an adult who cares. Different programs have different intake processes and most, if not all, require a background check. What a great way to unselfishly give back to someone who needs you!
Below is some local program contact information by county.
Wayne County- VIP Mentoring (www.vipmentoring.org)
Oakland – Mentor Connection (www.mentorconnect.org)
Macomb County- Childhelp (www.childhelp.org)
Rick Segal is the principal at Segal Consulting. He holds a certificate in Family Business Advising with a Fellows status from the Family Firm Institute. He is the founder of the Family Business Council and its affiliated Study Group. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by visiting www.segalconsulting.biz.