Maybe it’s not the Rotary Club in the conference room at your community, but one of the many local civic organizations that you’ve invited to use some of your space. It’s part of giving back to the greater community in some manner.
Social accountability is one area that not-for-profit senior living organizations should be keeping tabs on. Why? Your 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status, whether you like it or not, is always being scrutinized. And for some organizations, that status has been challenged in the courts.
This is a good reason why all nonprofit senior living organizations should be communicating both internally and externally on how you give back. As with the example above, perhaps you allow outside groups to use space at your community, or you regularly donate used appliances, cabinets and other items to the local Habitat for Humanity chapter. The question is: How does anyone know that your community is giving back at all?
Sloan Bentley is president and CEO of Lifespace Communities, an organization with 12 communities in seven states. Bentley says Lifespace takes social accountability very seriously, and that being a good neighbor is in fact one of the organization’s five pillars in its strategic planning. Within that strategic planning, social accountability is supported by leadership with budget, data collection and communication.
“You don’t want your giving back to be the best-kept secret,” said Bentley. “There are benefits that come with being a not-for-profit, and there’s too much at stake not to communicate both internally and externally on all the efforts being done to serve the greater community.”
Communicating your giving back should be a layered approach. Bentley believes those in senior housing are doing a better job at generating reports, perhaps distributing an annual report at the end of the fiscal year. But the communications should be peppered throughout the year.
“If we’re just incrementally collecting data throughout the year, but all our service to community efforts aren’t shared with others, we’re missing valuable opportunities to keep people excited and participating in these efforts,” noted Bentley.
So how can a senior living organization demonstrate and communicate how they give back to the greater community? Here are some tips:
- Incorporate social accountability into your overall strategic communications plan
- Develop and distribute news releases on larger initiatives throughout the year
- Regularly post on social media stories/events that demonstrate giving back
- Use your organization’s website to tell those social accountability stories
- Generate a year-end report that recaps all social accountability efforts and value
Bentley says social accountability is about education and value and overall living up to a moral obligation of serving the community. At Lifespace, they promote this philosophy throughout the organization, empower team members, track results, and then tell the story. How does your organization tell its social accountability story?
And don’t forget … let people know the Rotary Club is in the conference room!