Millions of people around the world suffer from lack of food, water, shelter, education, or medical care, and many people in your local community are undoubtedly struggling. Your company can provide meaningful change in the world by committing to giving back.
Giving back may also provide some surprising benefits for your company, especially if you get your team involved. Keep reading to learn about the benefits of corporate philanthropy, find tips to make the most impact with your efforts, and discover ways to inspire your team to get into the spirit of giving back.
Good for People, Good for Business
When a company gives back to a cause it cares about, it benefits the recipient and the company. Giving is rewarding and feels good. In one study, people were randomly assigned to spend different amounts of money on themselves or on others. At the end of the experiment, people who spent their money on others reported being happier than the people who spent money on themselves.
Find a charity that aligns with your company’s values What does your business do? What is your mission? If you’re in food service, for instance, maybe you’ll reach out to a non-profit focused on urban food insecurity or recycling. Or if you’re in the financial sector, you could look at one of the many nonprofits devoted to increasing financial literacy. Finding a charity that aligns with your company’s values is a great place to start.
Focus on impact Do you want to help women start small businesses, communities rebuild after disasters, children learn to read, or needy families have access to nutritious food? Visit a charity evaluator website, such as GiveWell, the Open Philanthropy Project, or the Foundational Research Institute, to compare the costs and effects of different interventions.
Do your research Before you commit to a cause, make sure it’s legitimate by checking a charity watchdog site such as CharityWatch, Charity Navigator, or BBB Wise Giving Alliance. Ideally, a charity should spend a majority of its funds on programs, not fundraising or administration.
Pay a visit By partnering with a local non-profit, you can help people in your local community and make it a better place to live. You’ll also have opportunities to sponsor team volunteer work days or local charity events. Before you partner with an organization, visit and observe their work first-hand.
Offer Volunteer Time Off (VTO) Want your employees to give back to the community and reap all of the positive benefits of volunteering? Offer a paid day off each month or year to volunteer at a local non-profit. VTO is a great way to inspire your employees to be an active part of your social responsibility mission. If it’s not easy for your company to lose an employee for a day, mitigate that potential downside by working out scheduling far in advance.
Offer charitable gifts for birthdays Some employees may appreciate a charity donation made in their name more than a gift or party. Consider offering a donation as one of your company’s birthday celebration options. If an employee chooses the donation, be sure to let him or her pick the charity to make the gift more meaningful.
Organize a team volunteer day A “day of service” is a great way to combine a team-building opportunity with contributing to the greater good. Be sure to plan your team volunteer day well in advance and partner with a non-profit organization that can accommodate a large group of volunteers. Ideally, the work should be meaningful and allow for social interaction. Consider these ideas: A food bank, animal shelter, soup kitchen, community garden, building project, or park or trail cleanup.
Host a food drive Make it easy for employees to contribute to a good cause by hosting a food drive in the office. Order collection barrels from a local food bank, set a goal for how many pounds of food you’d like to collect and distribute shopping lists of the food bank’s most needed food items to your team. To make your drive more fun, encourage friendly interdepartmental competition, announce the total pounds collected daily or weekly, and/or hold a raffle during the drive and charge a can of food for admission.
Martin Luther King said “Life’s persistent and most urgent question is ‘What are you doing for others?’” When giving back is one of your company’s core values, your community, employees, and company will all reap the rewards.
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