How Reuben Russell, a Birmingham Entrepreneur Grows His Company with Philanthropy
If you Google Birmingham business leader Reuben Russell, you’re as likely to find articles discussing his philanthropy as you will his success in business. He’s earned a reputation as an astute businessman, building a company that provides customized web applications and enterprise-level project management solutions to government agencies from the local to the federal level, including managing scheduling support for the NASA Space Launch System Project Office. Though businesses often take advantage of the many benefits of funding various charitable organizations and initiatives, Russell’s approach for doing so is closer to home.
There is a wide range of benefits to helping local organizations. In Russell’s case, his company, Russell Management Group, has an active relationship with Huntsville Inner City Church of Christ. His organization sponsors an annual Give Back Day at the church, which provides food, household items, and clothing to needy individuals in the area. He also personally mentors young men at the church, helping them become future leaders of the community.
Uplifting Employees and Giving Them Purpose
Upcoming generations of employees want more than just a career. They want fulfillment in their lives. Many millennials look for jobs where they can feel personally fulfilled and be proud that the company they’re working for does something to improve the world socially, such as supporting specific organizations that provide benefits for those in need or similar organizations. With 75% of the workforce expected to be millennials by 2025, this is crucial in engaging employees.
Russell has come to understand earlier than many entrepreneurs that philanthropy allows employees to feel fulfilled within their current occupation rather than seeking new employment. This makes it easier to avoid paying the high cost of employee turnover while retaining exceptional talent that has already been invested in. Given that millennial turnover will cost the U.S. economy $30.5 billion every year.
Raising New Leadership in the Area
In addition, the positive social capital that can be earned by volunteering and providing philanthropic benefits to organizations, whether local, regional, national, or international, can offer exceptional opportunities to recruit new leadership for your company. As people in your area hear about what your company is doing to benefit the community, you’re more likely to get better-quality applicants, allowing you to improve your company overall and ensure that you can retain your existing talent.
Recognized by the U.S. Small Business Administration in their 2015 Emerging Leaders Initiative, Reuben Russell recognized the value of attracting and retaining quality leadership. However, beyond simply using the social capital from his company’s efforts with the Church of Christ, he’s also directly working to raise new leadership in the local area through the mentorship program hosted at the church. This allows him to influence the lives of young men across the city and encourage them to better educational and career options in the area.
Improving Brand Recognition Through Philanthropy
One of the most significant areas where philanthropy is leveraged is in improving brand and company recognition. When your company volunteers or donates funds or materials to a charitable organization, it’s pretty common to expect that your contribution will be noted in a press release, social media post, blog post, or similar mention. This brings your business to the attention of potential employees, customers, and partners, which makes it easier to form solid networking connections. Realizing this opportunity can be a watershed moment for a small business.
This is one of the reasons why when you tried to Google Reuben Russell earlier, you found a lot of references to his work with the Huntsville Inner City Church of Christ. This has helped to increase his company’s visibility in a range of different ways. Simply having your company and a website isn’t enough to maximize your success. People need to recognize your company, understand its potential, realize the difference you’re making in the world, and then put that information into action to help you grow.
By undertaking philanthropic efforts, you can grow your business the way Reuben Russell has over the years. In today’s socially conscious society, showing what your company can do to improve the community can create strong social capital, along with many other benefits for your enterprise.