Rare is the person or organization that doesn’t believe giving back to the community is a good and noble exercise. Beyond a statement of endorsement however, how many people really do ‘give back’? Some people are able to give back everyday as part of the work they do (i.e. community based and charitable organizations) however the bulk of us are too busy between paid work and all the other commitments we have to do anything meaningful for the communities in which we live.
That’s where workplaces come in to help fill the void and enable everyone to participate in giving back and to feel good about the contributions they are making. This is evident at the Best Workplaces™ for Giving Back where:
94% of employees agree – “I feel good about the ways we contribute to the community.”
91% of employees agree – “I feel I make a difference here.”
Organizations that make giving back part of their cultural fabric enhance the lives of their people and this creates a positive impact on business activities as well. Giving back builds empathy, it encourages positive self-talk, and when done alongside teammates it enhances camaraderie, builds connections, facilitates engagement, and boosts pride in the organization. Plus it’s just the right thing to do as businesses realize the impact they have on the larger community.
“From our inception, we knew we wanted to build a business that was about more than just money and jobs, that would carry more of a forward legacy and be responsible to its stakeholders and to the community in which it operates."
Greg Malpass, Founder & CEO, Traction on Demand
Give Time to Give Back
All of the Best Workplaces for Giving Back provide their people time off to volunteer. This comes in a wide range of formats and you can choose what works best for your organization. Assess your resources, talk to your people, and decide how to best incorporate into your organization.
Involve employees in charitable events during work time. Set aside a day where employees volunteer at a charity. As a team, choose the charity you want to work with and then enjoy the experience together. Not only do you better understand the causes your people are passionate about, it also fosters team connections.
Maintain a database of community organizations you want to work with and the volunteer time they need. Allow employees to signup for the activities that fit best with their interests. This is a great way to track, and even incentivize, volunteerism at work
Provide a certain number of days for your people to volunteer where, and when, they choose. This is a common practice at the organizations on our list where employees are offered paid time off to volunteer at a non-profit organization of their choice. These volunteer days are in addition to their regular paid days off.
The We Care & Give Back program is one of Intuit's longest-standing values. Intuit employees make a difference in their communities by using paid time off to volunteer with qualified non-profits. Their employees have 40 hours of paid time off to volunteer.
Give Resources to Give Back
Another way to assist organizations and causes within the community is to give of your resources and talents. A software company may help with setting up a website, accounting firms often provide tax services for free or at a nominal cost. Restaurants donate food. Organizations have many resources at their disposal that can be used to help others.
Provide pro-bono services. Think about the talent you have within your organization and match it to a community need. Partner with certain causes and create a database to help employees understand what they can offer.
Think about mentoring as a way to give back to the community. Community based organizations often don’t have the budget to hire in-house expertise and mentoring can help fill some of that knowledge gap. These organizations may also provide services to people who could use mentoring to help them achieve their goals.
Allow organizations to use your space for meetings or events. You may also be able to provide supplies and technology to assist. Consider things like office supplies, photocopiers, colour printers, and access to your online meeting platforms.
At The Answer Company, their “Answering the Call” program was established to give back to the communities that they do business in. The program makes many contributions in their community such as donating services and software to two charities a year and aligning their efforts with clients who also contribute to the community, which attracts like-minded organizations that value social responsibility.
Give Money to Give Back
Say it with cash! Sometimes money is the best way to provide support. This enables the community organization to decide where best to put their resources and gives them the autonomy they need to make the most impact. Instead of simply writing a corporate cheque though, think of ways to include your people in formal corporate giving campaigns to create pride and enhance connections.
Set up specific fundraising events to encourage employees to give to a certain cause. Host dress-up days, ask for donations to participate in a fun event or choose one charity per month and set up a donation jar. Consider matching the funds donated where possible.
Provide a certain dollar amount per employee per year and allow them to donate to a cause they choose. Encourage people to share a bit about the causes closest to their hearts, which may inspire larger donation campaigns within the team or the organization as a whole.
Become an event sponsor. This requires a significant level of commitment however it creates a strong level of commitment within the organization and builds a sense of philanthropy that runs deep.
At Raymond James Ltd., each year their advisors and associates are able to double the impact of their charitable giving with a match of up to $2,500 per person during the Annual Giving Campaign. The Raymond James Canada Foundation is proud to support the organizations and causes that matter most to their employees.
Have Fun Giving Back
Giving back should be as fun as it is rewarding. These initiatives unite, they create positive vibes and they promote team spirit. Often organizations use these events to encourage physical fitness and they offer a chance to showcase and celebrate what makes each person unique.
Participate in a 5km walk or run for charity.
Host an office contest (pumpkin-carving, desk decorating, 80s costume) contest and charge for participation.
Hold an employee talent show and charge admission.
Celebrate a different culture each month with a luncheon by donation.
Dialogue Health Technologies Inc. regularly hosts ‘Charity Challenges’ where they rally the troops around physical activity while supporting a great cause like CAMH or Centraide. Their goal is to encourage Dialogue employees and their loved ones to stay active while raising funds for a Canadian charity. Ultimately this supports healthy behaviors for the team and brings everyone from Dialogue together around one common fundraising goal.
Giving back is so much more than something you do; it can, and should, be part of what you are. It doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated – look at it as an investment in your community and your people and use your giving back initiatives to build a culture of giving that resonates with your employees, your community, and your vision.
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