Want to hear a secret about corporate charitable giving? It has the power to change your corporate culture to one with a more caring and compassionate workforce, drive collaboration and trust, and enable employees to be more tolerant of rapid change – an essential skill to working successfully in cross-functional teams.

Corporate charitable giving is a secret recipe shared by a handful of companies that are able to harness its benefits to drive more creative, innovative, and ultimately productive cultures. And while corporate giving may sound like something best suited for large companies, the fact is that companies of all sizes can benefit from giving back. Availity is a great example of a company relatively small in scale whose culture has been affected in profound ways through charitable giving.

For instance, as part of Availity’s United Way campaign this year, 45 of its employees witnessed an interactive poverty simulation. Following the demonstration, the group shared stories of how what they saw changed their perception of those in need, in particular the sheer stress of poverty. Those conversations turned into action, with several stories about random acts of kindness and patience among team members who point to the poverty simulation as the motivation to make a difference.

My personal experience is when employees are engaged face-to-face with those they’re helping, there is more passion, motivation, and energy dedicated to making a difference. There are so many stories that continue to emerge of how our employees have their hearts tied to helping those in need. As a result of this new-found compassion, there is a tangible difference in how our employees treat their work and each other.

As the executive sponsor of Availity’s 2014 United Way campaign, I am extremely proud of the donations we raised, but what touches me the most is the transformation I’ve seen across our company as the result of charitable giving. Giving back changes more than the lives of those you help, it changes everyone involved for the better, professionally and personally.