by Roy Saunderson | June 27, 2011
Employees not only want to feel pride in their own individual jobs, but also what their company does for customers and the community. In 1983, American Express raised more than $2 million to help restore the Statue of Liberty. They did this by donating 1 cent every time an American Express Card was used by a card member.  It was through this act that the term “cause-related marketing," or CRM, was coined. After noticing the positive impacts of CRM, Dr. Cary Silverman, one of the world's leading LASIK and cataract surgeons, embraced the initiative and began his own philanthropic work. Through several CRM initiatives, Silverman and his New Jersey practice have made a significant impact on his practice's brand, patient loyalty, and causes that are important to their industry. 

Below are some examples of ways in which Silverman, at his practice, EyeCare20/20, has generated workplace pride by embracing CRM. He also has included helpful tips for bringing CRM into your workforce:

1.  Establish an initiative that will last: EyeCare 20/20 provided free LASIK procedures to any USA Olympic athlete throughout its "LASIK for the Gold" program. It did this by flying athletes out to New Jersey and putting them up in a hotel. Employees feel patriotic and motivated to be part of Olympic history, as the U.S. athletes won seven medals in the 2010 Winter Games! 

2. Establish an initiative that everyone can relate to. In sports, referees, judges, and umpires, with their reputations for making bad calls, often are everyone's favorite punching bags. In order to help change this, EyeCare 20/20 established the "LASIK The Refs" program, which provides free procedures for professional referees and umpires (to help eliminate incorrect calls!).

3.  Establish an annual program. It is important employees feel pride in the culture of their company’s giving efforts and enjoy participating in events that help the community. Silverman’s practice provides free cataract surgeries to patients who have no insurance or lack the means to pay for them. It announced a free cataract surgery event, Vision Harvest, several months in advance and encouraged employees to spread the news.

4.  Find partners to share in the effort. For the Vision Harvest event, EyeCare 20/20 partnered with other ophthalmologists, optometrists, drug companies, equipment vendors, anesthesiologists, and internists in the area who provided medical clearance for those needing surgeries. It offered its surgical center as the location that provided these services. This is an example of when others follow and join your lead, your staff can feel even more proud.

5. Donate or discount your goods and services. Give to local charities and events when they need items (or products or services) for auctions or giveaways. For three years, EyeCare 20/20 has helped raise $10,000 by donating free LASIK surgeries to The Seeing Eye. It also offers 20 percent discounts to veterans and public service workers (firefighters, police officers, etc).

6.  Share the goodness. If you run a medical practice, have your employees choose the nonprofit project you support and then invite customers and patients to participate. Tie patient donations to discounts on out-of-pocket procedures. A recent fund-raising effort in which EyeCare 20/20 participated invited potential patients to donate $50 to a global eco-charity. The practice matched the contribution and reduced the price of bilateral LASIK by $1,000 as a thank-you gesture for the donation. Within a month of the promotion, more than $3,500 was raised for the cause, equating to approximately 35 new LASIK patients for the practice.

7.  Don't worry about trash versus treasure. Almost anything can be donated to charity―old computers, artwork, canned goods, and excess fabric. EyeCare 20/20 collects eyeglasses that employees and patients no longer need and donates them to various charities and churches. In your business, let your employees bring their collected goods to a specific drop-off point or meet with recipients at an arranged location. Knowing it was your company that organized the donation will go a long way.

8.  Use social media. The news and feedback from your goodwill efforts are very valuable for positive reinforcement within your company. Assign an employee to monitor comments and feedback and then communicate them to the rest of the teams.

9.  Celebrate when you reach goals. Be sure to celebrate your corporate promotion, especially if it was a company initiative that could not have happened without employee participation.  Whether you have a group lunch or every employee gets a paid day off, make sure that your team is rewarded for their efforts, time, and contributions.

10.  Encourage employees' ideas. Silverman reminds us of the importance of inviting staff to come up with ideas, charities, and initiatives, as well. Ultimately, it is your employees who will spread the good word through their continued employment. They are the heart of your business, and it is their hearts that will lead the goodwill initiatives! 

Incentive columnist Roy Saunderson is author of Giving the Recognition Way and president of the Recognition Management Institute,, which consults companies on improving employee motivation that leads to increased productivity and profit. He can be reached at [email protected] Also, tune in every Tuesday to his radio show, Real Recognition Radio