Can a “Helper’s High” Boost Your Bottom Line?

Giving back to society is good for the soul – and good for business.

If you’ve ever volunteered to spoon soup at your local food bank or put a hammer to prop up a house for a family in need, you know how great that feels. Scientific studies reveal that donors can experience a sense of euphoria in the brain, often called the “helper’s high.”

And here’s a fun fact: The act of giving reduces stress and boosts the immune system. Beyond the personal benefits of philanthropy, leadership teams recognize that these benefits lead to happier and healthier employees. In an organization, volunteering ignites purpose, enhances belonging, and impacts bottom line.

I spoke with Gina Mastantuono, CFO and executive sponsor for environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategy at ServiceNow, to understand her “why” for giving, the ripple effect of community engagement, and how to encourage others to lead with purpose.

You’re in finance, but we’re talking about volunteering here. Where does the service fit into your operation and overall financial strategy?

Gina: We’ve seen the role of the CFO evolve over the last decade. Progressive CFOs, in collaboration with their peers, are responsible for implementing a strategy to drive long-term business growth, mitigate risk, maintain accountability and ensure employee engagement is at the heart of the organization.

So two years ago, when Bill McDermott asked me to lead our ESG strategy, it made perfect sense. Our employees, investors and extended ecosystem want to work with organizations that speak up. Our ESG strategy provides an ethical, sustainable and fair framework that guides our investment plans and informs our critical business decisions. Volunteering and giving back to the community is right at the heart of our purpose: to make the world work better for everyone.

Believe it or not, I spend as much time with the head of people working to deliver meaningful employee experiences as I do working to ensure our financial success—the two are indelibly intertwined.

When you take time to give back, what impact does that have on you and how does community engagement add value to the entire business?

Gina: Assistant height is fantastic feeling. There is reciprocity in giving back, and selfishly, it feels good to know that I have positively impacted someone else.

John Bunyan summed it up perfectly when he said, “You have not lived [today] until you do something for someone who can never repay you.” When this mindset is instilled in an organization’s core values, it becomes a force multiplier. We become stronger together. Employees have a sense of belonging and feel connected to the purpose of our organization.

I firmly believe that profit and purpose need not be mutually exclusive.

These values ​​also apply to our stakeholders: customers, new talent, investors and so on. We know that C-suite leaders and investment professionals agree that ESG programs create shareholder value. By deepening trust and talking about making the world better, the benefits reflect our real value and drive real business value—from increasing employee retention and talent acquisition to strengthening capabilities and product sales.

All of this moves the needle and strengthens our competitive advantage. I strongly believe that Profits and purpose need not be mutually exclusive.

How do you encourage employees, partners and customers to participate?

Gina: All employees have access to a portal that not only acts as a volunteer resource, but also acts as a conduit. People can search for company volunteer opportunities, log volunteer time, and even create applications. We offer a combination of paid leave for volunteering and a matching donation program. Our dedicated employee base accounted for 22% of total grants in 2021. This year, we’re aiming even higher.

I’ve also seen ServiceNow employees use our technology to help others. One of my favorite examples is a group that helped the German non-governmental organization (NGO) Blau-Gelbes Kreuz (BGK) get medical kits to Ukraine. The NGO faced logistical and bureaucratic challenges. Within days, this team of workers used our low-code technology to develop a mobile app to speed up the NGO’s operations—flight planning, package tracking, and more. Twenty tons of cargo and 30 passengers (and counting) later, BGK has provided more than 100 medical kits to Ukraine — enough to save 10,000 lives. This example shows how our employees can drive our cause!

What advice can you give to organizations looking to strengthen their community engagement strategy?

Gina: Participate in a whiteboarding session with employees and leaders. Hear, hear, hear! I can assure you that your employees have bold and innovative ideas. Demonstrate value and align priorities and goals to optimize a community engagement strategy. I often say you have to slow down to go fast. If you’re still wondering where to start, listen to Arthur Ashe’s advice: “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”

I can tell you, as a CFO and as a person who cares about giving back to make the world work better, it’s worth it.

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