Let’s go all-in on tribal philanthropy! Let’s talk about how to fully utilize team members as our cheerleaders; give them the megaphone. After all, the research demonstrates that they are more than willing to talk about your good deeds with your guests – it gives them a sense of pride, belonging, camaraderie with their fellow teammates, and a thorough understanding of the Tribe and its related enterprises.
We can shout, “We are all in this together!”
The process will take some heavy lifting, a new way of thinking, and some creativity; however, the results will be worth the effort.
Step 1 – Identify. Identify opportunities to help that align with the values of the Tribal owners, the business unit, and the workforce. For example, many Tribes are concerned with environmental stewardship. If environmentalism is an important concept to the Tribe then why would a PR professional attempt to align the business unit(s) with another cause? What is it that is most important to your organization? What is the business unit(s) implicit and explicit purpose? Bonus points for those that can help your workforce, local region, and impact the economy. Think about the education level in your area. What is the local literacy and high school graduation rate? Is it low? If so, think about holding a high school equivalency prep course on property and allow the community and your team to attend – free of charge, of course. The results are sure to be astounding!
Step 2 – Ensure alignment. Align specific opportunities with those who care the most in your workforce. For example, can you post a signup sheet for a quarterly day of giving? Post your projects in prominent employee areas to allow your team members to sign up for a cause that they care most about. Answer questions about pay, time away from work, and how long you expect the project to last. Many of you would be surprised at how many are willing to give their time on a day off versus those who just want a free day off of work. Track volunteer hours and promote the total in a common area with project signup sheets – it instills a sense of pride that they were a part of it and can sway other team members to sign up for other worthy causes. Create community involvement goals and celebrate milestones.
Step 3 – Inform. Give your team members and the public information about your efforts. Press Conference? Sure! Send bullet points to your team? Absolutely! Provide the facts and allow them to talk about it with your guests – they want to talk about your good deeds. This is how we build human-to-human connections. Provide your team with information about the tribe, and better yet, take them on a tour of the reservation so that they can see the impact of casino operations. Provide them with enough information to answer some of the most commonly asked questions: “Are we on a reservation,” and “How many tribal members are there,” among the many, many others. They will appreciate the information and are willing to spread it. Ensure that there are continual lines of communication on tribal happenings and local impact.
Step 4 – Promote. Give your team a reason to share after you have given them the information. Get creative to share your message and promote your cause at the same time. There are numerous ways to get guests involved and curious about the initiative. We are all familiar with promotional items, digital buttons, direct mailers, and other forms of event marketing – use them! Give promotional items out on the casino floor or ask that all team member wears a button featuring a logo or phrase of your cause. Provide information about the event or cause in your core monthly mailer, on your internal digital signage, and in other marketing communications to get the public interested and garner community buy-in. You have provided your team members with “inside” information about your cause or event and they are more than willing to talk to a curious guest about it. People crave social connections and like to share information especially when they have the inside “scoop.” It gives them a sense of pride in their ability to share that information which solidifies the bond between themselves, the guest, and the Tribal owners – and most importantly, your brand. Think of it this way, how many times has someone told you about a bargain they found? Psychologically, they want to share the wealth. This is no different: when a person is proud of something, they want to tell others about it.
Guest-facing roles are uniquely positioned to communicate messages related to tribal facts, tribal charitable giving, social investments, and other causes (2016). Investment in a robust education program for tribal gaming employees can act as a powerful guest retention tool as well as positively impact employee satisfaction and loyalty. Provide timely updates to your team. According to Ponting, Ponting, and Spilde (2016), tribal gaming employees respond very favorably to knowledge about tribal gaming investment in charitable efforts. The research suggests that engaging tribal casino employees directly in the development of future giving campaigns, public education, and outreach will not only provide a return to the gaming operation through employee retention and loyalty but will also provide benefits to the tribe in the form of political capital (2016). Remember, your guests see casino team members as a source of information about the tribe not just about the gaming experience. Get your team members involved so that they can share your story!
Ponting, S. S.-A., Ponting, J., & Spilde, K. (2016). Identifying Opportunities to Inform and Inspire: Tribal Casino Employee Perceptions of Tribal Self Sufficiency and Philanthropy. UNLV Gaming Research & Review Journal, 20(2), 85–103.