Around the holidays, it’s commonplace for businesses to offer a way for employees to give back to the surrounding community. Activities like collecting toys for underprivileged children, raising money for a local mission or homeless shelter, or volunteering to serve Thanksgiving meals at a soup kitchen offer varying levels of engagement for your staff.
But charity work isn’t just for the holidays. Enlightened CEOs know that developing a year-round corporate culture of giving benefits not only the local community, but also the company itself.
A 2010 study conducted by Cone Communications revealed that 75% of employees want to be involved in their company’s giving and volunteering programs. And a 2011 survey of Deloitte employees aged 21-35 revealed that millennials who frequently participate in workplace volunteer activities are nearly twice as likely to be very satisfied with the progression of their career.
Both of these studies point to the idea that involving employees in corporate giving programs on a regular basis makes them feel better about their jobs, which helps to limit or reduce staff turnover, thus reducing HR and training costs. In essence, corporate giving programs may be the best talent retention strategy ever devised — not to mention a fantastic way to elevate your company’s standing in the community.
TIPS FOR DEVELOPING A CULTURE OF YEAR-ROUND GIVING
Corporate cultures vary from business to business, as does work flow. Some businesses have busy seasons, while others have a steady workload throughout the year. Depending on your own particular company culture and work flow, you may decide to present a series of social impact programs for employees that are either targeted toward a few specific days or weeks per year, or spread out evenly across your fiscal calendar.
Whichever strategy you choose, the ideas below should generate plenty of community goodwill and employee engagement.
Make It Official / Put It in Writing
One of the best ways to show current and prospective employees that you’re serious about developing a culture of giving is to add a prominent reference to it in your company mission statement. JetBlue provides a great example of this. Their corporate social responsibility page reads as follows:
JetBlue’s mission is to inspire humanity — both in the air and on the ground. We are committed to giving back in meaningful ways in the communities we serve and to inspire others to do the same.
Whether the goal is to raise a certain amount of money for a specific cause or to have each department donate “x” number of hours of volunteer time, it’s important to establish a goal that employees can work toward. You can choose one specific cause or charity to focus on all year long, or you can change it up and choose a different charity each month. In most cities, you don’t have to look too far to find a worthy organization in need.
Make It a Team Effort
For small companies just starting their own internal corporate giving program, sometimes the best option is for the whole company — or an entire department — to volunteer their time together as a group. On a national scale, Habitat for Humanity is an ideal organization because they are able to accommodate large groups at various homebuilding sites around the country. But local agencies can often make room for large groups as well. Here in Albuquerque, our local Roadrunner Food Bank invites businesses to volunteer in their warehouse, packaging and sorting food that will be transported and distributed to hungry children and families throughout the state of New Mexico. This type of activity can be a great team-building exercise for the entire staff.
Establish a Rewards System
While giving back to our fellow man is generally its own reward, it’s still a good idea to reward exceptional volunteer service or fundraising efforts in whatever way works best for your business. Common rewards include additional paid time off, “dollars for doers” bonuses like gift cards, and special recognition via your company’s social media channels. The Good Card®, a program offered by the Network for Good, is a prepaid, custom-brandable corporate charity gift card that businesses can purchase and award to employees. Employees can then go the Network for Good website and donate the funds to their favorite nonprofit organization.
Celebrate Your Achievements
After a long year of giving back, it’s important to celebrate your efforts on a company-wide scale. In this area, nobody does it better than Deloitte. Their global Impact Day allows employees around the world to celebrate making an #impactthatmatters by — what else? — spending the day doing more volunteer work during a nationwide day of service.
Sources Used: The survey and study data referred to in this article were obtained from a whitepaper entitled Employee Engagement, published by the Network for Good.