We’ve heard it time and time again – companies need to engage in corporate social responsibility (CSR). But with the New Year, maybe brands can look at CSR in a slightly different way. Instead of just partnering with an organization or giving to a charity, brands should consider taking it one step further and really engage with their community. While simply donating is not bad at all, company employees giving time and effort can go a lot further in how a brand is perceived by the public. Don’t believe me? Check out these brands that go the extra mile:

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Sometimes, it’s the little things that count. The Tides Loads of Hope laundromat began in 2005 in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. They saw a simple need they could fix – providing clean clothes to those affected by a natural disaster. The company deploys the mobile fleet that carries 32 washers and dryers to a disaster site for a few days where they wash, dry and fold laundry people bring them for free. To this day, the company has washed over 58,000 loads of laundry for more than 43,000 families. Most recently, the fleet headed to Colorado in late September to help those affected by the flooding in the area. Although it’s as simple as doing a load of laundry, they are helping communities by trying to make their lives better with little acts of kindness.

Think of the impact, instead of the gain. For the second year in a row, the Canadian airline WestJet decided to spread a little holiday cheer to some lucky passengers. Why? The airline believes in being more than just an airline. They strive to give a little more and create a “fun, friendly and caring” environment for their passengers. What better way than to use some hidden cameras and Santa to ask passengers what they want for Christmas this year? And they didn’t just stop there! The airline took it one step further and actually purchased the gifts to surprise the guests when they came back from a flight. The company did not do this to benefit themselves, although they may have received some positive exposure, they did it to give their customers something extra this year and make their days a little brighter.

Turn resources and tools into helping hands. One of our clients, Harris CapRock, provides satellite and terrestrial communications solutions for remote and harsh environments. Recently they began providing disaster recovery connectivity in the Philippines to help those affected by Typhoon Haiyan. After the clean-up crews are done and the cameras move out of the areas, there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done to help the communities get back on their feet.

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This is where HarrisCapRock stepped in and provided two VSAT terminals so the communities can connect with their loved ones and those outside of the area. Also, while they are there, employees help in any way they can by providing relief supplies. The company is using the resources and tools it has to help the communities and give back to them in any way they can.

Whether by helping those in need or giving just because, these brands just wanted to give back to their customers and communities in any way they could. By actually going out into the community and directly interacting with their audience, they were able to humanize the brand So, in 2014, think about giving a little more to your community. Show your audience the personal side of your brand by investing time and effort into your giving. After all, a brand is not just a company, people make up the brand and we want to see others doing good in the world.

Previously published on The M/C/C Minute at www.mccom.com/blog. Tweet us — @mccPR!