How to Put Philanthropy at the Centre of Client Engagement

Nonprofits and charitable organisations were among the entities hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic, which came just as ESG was rising as a top priority among younger investors. Engagement with philanthropy has become an extremely effective means of linking law firms with their local communities and fostering better client relations.

Below, we look at the example of Connecticut Trial Firm LLC and the advice they have to offer other law firms regarding philanthropic endeavours.

When attorneys Ryan McKeen and Andrew Garza founded Connecticut Trial Firm LLC, they did so with a commitment to providing the town of Glastonbury, Connecticut, and surrounding communities with trusted legal expertise. The firm’s approach has always been rooted in the company’s tagline: “You’ve been wronged. Let us try to make it right.” This mantra has become the team’s value proposition through the years.

Beyond that, though, exists an even bigger purpose that has deepened the team’s connection to the community and formalised a philanthropic component to the firm’s overarching mission. While community service has always played a role in the lives of both attorneys, the pandemic certainly elevated its importance, and they understood the value-add that would coincide with incorporating it into the broader business strategy such as increased access to resources, heightened visibility, and opportunities for sponsorship. While both emphasise that small business owners do not have to overextend themselves to make a difference, they have found that the opportunity to make the biggest impact exists at the intersection of personal connections and professional clout.

To date, the CT Firm team have spearheaded sponsorship efforts for several initiatives, including the Race to the Pantry 5K and the Eversource Hartford Marathon in partnership with the Achilles Foundation, an organisation whose mission it is to make athletics accessible to everyone. Additionally, the firm introduced the Education Accessibility Scholarship, the Tremendous Teacher Award, the Camp 4 Kids program that provides funds for two local children to attend summer camp in partnership with East Hartford’s Park and Recreation, as well as the T-Shirt Project for the Enfield Soup Kitchen. Combined, these outreach programs generated approximately $20,000 in 2021.

The firm’s approach has always been rooted in the company’s tagline: “You’ve been wronged. Let us try to make it right.”

While the monetary return is critical to ensuring the success of these causes, the firm’s community and online presence has also played a crucial role in heightening visibility, raising awareness, and empowering others to contribute. Today, the team has its sights set toward keeping the momentum going with plans to continue backing the causes they have come to care about so much while also considering a broader approach to community giving. That said, Ryan and Andrew emphasise the notion that it does not take a substantial amount of time or funding to make an impact.

Take inventory

When thinking about fine-tuning your firm’s approach, it’s important to reflect on the needs of your community as well as your capacity to contribute. Support can come in the forms of sharing narratives across your digital platforms, presenting your clients with opportunities to participate, donating time, raising funds, sponsorship, etc.

If you are just getting started, select 1-2 causes that you would like to get behind. Develop a sustainable approach that positions you to effectively demonstrate your organisation’s support beyond the here and now.

  • Why is this initiative so important?
  • How much time can you give?
  • Can you afford to monetarily support the initiative?
  • Is the cause something that will ignite excitement in your employees? What about your clients?

While ad hoc contributions are helpful, consistent, long-term support is more likely to make an impact on the bottom-line objectives.

Formalise the approach

Once you have identified the causes you would like to support, put to paper the strategy for incorporating your efforts into the fold of your overarching business goals.

  • Which resources will you be assigning to the cause?
  • What is your approach to amplifying the messaging?
  • What are the primary goals? What about secondary goals?
  • How will you define success and ROI?

From there, develop a timeline and methodology for benchmarking. This will empower you to determine the depth of your impact and the possibility for future collaborations.

While ad hoc contributions are helpful, consistent, long-term support is more likely to make an impact on the bottom-line objectives.

Bridge the gap

Oftentimes, one of the biggest needs of community organisations is participation. That said, however, most nonprofits do not have the marketing dollars to promote their respective cause or access to networks that would likely prove supportive. Again, even if you can only support the comms side to things, that could go a long way. Social media campaigns, email blasts, website promotions, ads – these digital platforms are extremely effective in elevating visibility and driving traffic. How can you optimise yours? When you do go to market, make sure to include a comprehensive call to action so that the journey is as seamless as possible for interested parties.

Engaging the audiences that you already interact with regularly is an easy step to take, particularly given the appetite of customers and employees who are partial to brands dedicated to giving back. In fact, according to Small Biz Trends, 71% of consumers prefer supporting businesses that align to their values. Additionally, according to HR Dive, 81% of millennials want to support brands with corporate citizenship at the forefront. Communicate the opportunity to take part in extracurricular activities, reward participation, and empower them to become advocates themselves. More often than not, the volunteers you are searching for already exist in your proverbial rolodex; they are just looking to be kept apprised of avenues they can lean into and support.

While the depth of your engagement will depend on the size of your organisation, the volume of your workload and the resources that you have at your disposal, a philanthropic mindset is undeniably good for business. As your strategy matures, you will likely be positioned to track the return on your investment by way of client engagement, brand loyalty and business development. It will not always be a direct correlation, but as the pandemic continues to threaten businesses, particularly within the nonprofit sector, the organisations that extend a helping hand will likely be the ones that are top-of-mind when prospective clients are deciding who they want to represent them and who they want to work alongside.

 

Ryan McKeen & Andrew Garza, Co-Founders

Connecticut Trial Firm LLC

437 Naubuc Ave, Suite 107, Glastonbury, CT 06033

Tel: +1 860-964-5703

 

Ryan McKeen and Andrew Garza are first-generation lawyers and co-founders of Connecticut Trial Firm LLC, a personal injury firm headquartered in Glastonbury. The firm covers a wide range of personal injury practice areas, including wrongful death, medical malpractice, motor accidents, product liability and workers’ compensation.

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